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Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1848, by 

Washington Irving, 

in the Clerk's Office of the District Court for the Southern District of 
New- York. 

John F. Trow, 

Frinter and Stereotypic 

49 Aun-street, N. Y. 




Portrait of Diedrich Knickerbocker, from an 

original painting lately discovered by the 

expedition to Holland, .... 
OlofTe the Dreamer's Vision of the future city 

of Nieuw Amsterdam, . 

Knickerbocker's rage at the crying children, 
Diedrich Knickerbocker Philosophizing, . 
The Dutch Exploring Expedition cast away at 

Hurl- Gate, 

Oloffe Van Kortland measuring the land with 

Tenbroeck's breeches, .... 

The Peach War, 

Dutch Courtship, ...... 

Portrait of Wouter Van Twiller, from authentic 


Van Curlet's bearer of Dispatches, 

William the Testy astonishing the Council with 

his new method of waging war, 
Old Keldermeester in his coffin, 
Van Poffenburgh practising war, 
The meeting of the stout Risingh and Peter Stuy- 

vesant, ....... 

The great Battle at Fort Christina, 
Knickerbocker's Farewell, .... 






. Title. 


. 14 




. Ill 

HERRICK, . 122 
CHILDS, . .133 
LESLIE, . . 163 

LESLIE, . . 141 

CHILDS, . . 300 
HERRICK, . .306 

CHILDS, . . 369 
ENDE, . . 454 

Peter Stuyvesant's Army entering New Amsterdam. 
From a drawing by William Heath, and presented by him to the Author. 


The author's apology, page xi 

Original advertisements, .......... xv 

Account of the author, . • • 13 

Address to the public, 23 



Chap. I. — Description of the World Hi) 

Chap. II. — Cosmogony, or Creation of the World ; with a multitude of excel- 
lent theories, by which the creation of a world is shown to be no such 
difficult matter as common folk would imagine ... . . 36 

Chap. III. — How that famous navigator, Noah, was shamefully nicknamed ; 
and how he committed an unpardonable oversight in not having four sons. 
With the great trouble of philosophers caused thereby, and the discovery of 
America ........... 45 

Chap. IV. — Showing the great difficulty Philosophers have had in peopling 
America — and how the Aborigines came to be begotten by accident — to the 
great relief and satisfaction of ihe Author 52 

Chap. V. — In which the Author puts a mighty question to the rout, by the 
assistance of the Man in the Moon— which not only delivers thousands of 
people from great embarrassment, but likewise concludes this introductory 
book 59 




Chap. I. — In which are contained clivers reasons why a man should not write 
in a hurry — Also of Master Hendrick Hudson, his discovery of a strange 
country — and how he was magnificently rewarded by the munificence of 
their High Mightinesses 75 

Chap. II. — Containing an account of a mighty Ark which floated, under the 
protection of St. Nicholas, from Holland to Gibbet Island — the descent of 
the strange Animals therefrom — a great victory, and a description of the 
ancient village of Communipaw . . . . . . . 86 

Chap. III. — In which is set forth the true art of making a bargain — together 
with the miraculous escape of a great Metropolis in a fog — and the biogra- 
phy of certain heroes of Communipaw ..... 93 

Chap. IV. — How the heroes of Communipaw voyaged to Hell-gate, and how 
they were received there . . . . . . . . 10 1 

Chap. V. — How the heroes of Communipaw returned somewhat wiser than 
they went — and how the sage Oloffe dreamed a dream — and the dream 
that he dreamed ......... 112 

Chap. VI. — Containing an attempt at etymology — and of the founding of the 
great city of New- Amsterdam . . . . . . . 117 

Chap. VII. — How the people of Pavonia migrated from Communipaw to the 
Island of Manna-hata — and how Oloffe the Dreamer proved himself a great 
land speculator .......... 120 

Chap. VIII. — Of the founding and naming of the new City — of the City Arms ; 
and of the direful feud between Ten Breeches and Tough Breeches . 123 

Chap. IX. — How the city of New- Amsterdam waxed great under the protec- 
tion of St. Nicholas and the absence of laws and statutes — How Oloffe the 
Dreamer begun to dream of an extension of Empire, and of the effect of 
his dreams 129 



Chap. I. — Of the renowned Wouter Van Twiller, his unparalleled virtues — as 
likewise his unutterable wisdom in the law case of Wandle Schoonhoven 
and Barent Bleecker — and the great admiration of the public thereat 137 


Chap. II — Containing some account of the grand council of New-Amster- 
dam, as also divers especial good philosophical reasons why an Alderman 
should be fat — with other particulars touching the state of the province 146 

Chap. III. — How the town of New- Amsterdam arose out of mud, and came 
to be marvelously polished and polite — together with a picture of the man- 
ners of our great-great-grandfathers ...... 156 

Chap. IV. — Containing farther particulars of the Golden Age, and what con- 
stituted a fine Lady and Gentleman in the days of Walter the Doubter 164 

Chap. V. — Of the founding of Fort Aurania — Of the mysteries of the Hudson 
— Of the arrival of the Patroon Killian Van Rensellaer ; his lordly descent 
upon the earth, and his introduction of club law . . . . 170 

Chap. VI. — In which the reader is beguiled into a delectable walk, which ends 
very differently from what it commenced . . . - . . 174 

Chap. VII. — Faithfully describing the ingenious people of Connecticut and 
thereabouts — showing, moreover, the true meaning of liberty of conscience, 
and a curious device among these sturdy barbarians, to keep up a harmony 
of intercourse, and promote population 180 

Chap. VIII. — How these singular barbarians turned out to be notorious squat- 
ters. How they built air castles, and attempted to initiate the Neder- 
landers in the mystery of bundling . . . . . . 185 

Chap. IX. — How the Fort Goed Hoop was fearfully beleaguered — how the 
renowned Wouter fell into a profound doubt, and how he finally evapo- 
rated . 191 



Chap. I. — Showing the nature of history in general ; containing furthermore 
the universal acquirements of William the Testy, and how a man may learn 
so much as to render himself good for nothing .... 199 

Chap. II. — How William the Testy undertook to conquer by proclamation — 
how he was a great man abroad, but a little man in his own house . 205 

Chap. III. — In which are recorded the sage projects of a ruler of universal 
genius — The art of fighting by proclamation — and how that the valiant 
Jacobus Van Curlet came to be foully dishonored at Fort Goed Hoop . 209 

Chap. IV. — Containing the fearful wrath of William the Testy, and the alarm 
of New- Amsterdam — how the Governor did strongly fortify the City — Of 
Antony the Trumpeter, and the windy addition to the armorial bearings of 
New-Amsterdam 214 


Chap. V — Of the jurisprudence of William the Testy, and his admirable expe- 
dients for the suppression of Poverty ...... 219 

Chap. VI. — Projects of William the Testy for increasing the currency — he is 
outwitted by the Yankees — The great Oyster War . . . 224 

Chap. VII. — Growing discontents of New- Amsterdam under the government 
of William the Testy 229 

Chap. VIII. — The edict of William the Testy against Tobacco — Of the Pipe 
Plot, and the rise of Feuds and Parties ..... 232 

Chap. IX. — Of the folly of being happy in the time of prosperity — Of troubles 
to the South brought on by annexation — Of the secret expedition of 
Jansen Alpendam, and his magnificent reward .... 237 

Chap. X. — Troublous times on the Hudson — How Killian Van Rensellaer 
erected a feudal castle, and how he introduced club law into the 
province 242 

Chap. XI. — Of the diplomatic mission of Antony the Trumpeter to the For- 
tress of Rensellaerstein — and how he was puzzled by a cabalistic reply 246 

Chap. XII. — Containing the rise of the great Amphictyonic Council of the 
Pilgrims, with the decline and final extinction of William the Testy . 250 



Chap. I — In which the death of a great man is shown to be no very inconso- 
lable matter of sorrow — and how Peter Stuyvesant acquired a great name 
from tbe uncommon strength of his head 257 

Chap. II. — Showing how Peter the Headstrong bestirred himself among the 
rats and cobwebs on entering into office ; his interview with Antony the 
Trumpeter, and his perilous meddling with the currency . . 264 

Chap. III. — How the Yankee League waxed more and more potent ; and how 
it outwitted the good Peter in treaty-making .... 269 

Chap. IV. — Containing divers speculations — showing that a treaty of peace is 
a great national evil ......... 275 

Chap. V. — How Peter Stuyvesant was grievously belied by the great council 
of the League ; and how he sent Antony the Trumpeter to take to the 
council a piece of his mind ....... 282 

Chap. VI. — How Peter Stuyvesant demanded a court of honor — and of the 
court of honor awarded to him ....... 287 


Chap. VII. — How " Drum Ecclesiastic " was beaten throughout Connecticut 
for a crusade against the New-Netherlands, and how Peter Stuyvesant took 
measures to fortify his Capital ....... 290 

Chap. VIII. — How the Yankee crusade against the New-Netherlands was 
baffled by the sudden outbreak of witchcraft among the people of the 
East 295 

Chap. IX. — Which records the rise and renown of a Military Commander, 
showing that a man, like a bladder, may be puffed up to greatness by mere 
wind ; together with the catastrophe of a veteran and his queue . 301 



Chap. I. — In which is exhibited a warlike Portrait of the great Peter — of the 
windy contest of General Van Poffenburgh and General Printz, and of the 
Mosquito War on the Delaware ...... 309 

Chap. II. — Of Jan Risingh, his giantly person and crafty deeds ; and of the 
Catastrophe at Fort Casimir . . . . . . . 315 

Chap. III. — Showing how profound secrets are often brought to light ; with the 
proceedings of Peter the Headstrong when he heard of the misfortunes of 
General Van Poffenburgh 322 

Chap. IV. — Containing Peter Stuyvesant's Voyage up the Hudson, and the 
wonders and delights of that renowned river .... 330 

Chap. V. — Describing the powerful Army that assembled at the city of New- 
Amsterdam — together with the interview between Peter the Headstrong 
and General Von Poffenburgh, and Peter's sentiments touching unfortunate 
great men 338 

Chap. VI. — In which the Author discourses very ingeniously of himself — after 
which is to be found much interesting history about Peter the Headstrong 
and his followers 345 

Chap. VII. — Showing the great advantage that the Author has over his Reader 
in time of Battle — together with divers portentous movements ; which 
betoken that something terrible is about to happen . . . 354 

Chap. VIII. — Containing the most horrible battle ever recorded in poetry or 
prose ; with the admirable exploits of Peter the Headstrong . . 361 

Chap. IX. — In which the Author and the Reader, while reposing after the 
battle, fall into a very grave discourse, after which is recorded the conduct of 
Peter Stuyvesant after his victory ...... 372 




Chap. I.— How Peter Stuyvesant relieved the Sovereign People from the bur- 
then of taking care of the nation ; with sundry particulars of his conduct 
in the time of peace, and of the rise of a great Dutch aristocracy . 381 

Chap. II. — How Peter Stuyvesaut labored to civilize the community — how he 
was a great promoter of holydays — how he instituted kissing on New- 
Year's Day — how he distributed fiddles throughout the New- Netherlands 
— how he ventured to reform the Ladies' petticoats, and how he caught a 
tartar 388 

Chap. III. — How troubles thicken on the province — how it is threatened by 
the Helderbergers — The Merrylanders, and the Giants of the Susque- 
hanna 393 

Chap. IV. — How Peter Stuyvesant adventured into the East Country, and how 
he fared there 397 

Chap. V. — How the Yankees secretly sought the aid of the British Cabinet in 
their hostile schemes against the Manhattoes .... 404 

Chap. VI. — Of Peter Stuyvesant's Expedition into the East Country, showing 
that, though an old bird, he did not understand trap . . . 407 

Chap. VII. — How the people of New- Amsterdam were thrown into a great 
panic, by the news of the threatened invasion, and the manner in which 
they fortified themselves 412 

Chap. VIII. — How the Grand Council of the New-Netherlands were miracu- 
lously gifted with long tongues in the moment of emergency — showing the 
value of words in warfare . . ...... 416 

Chap. IX. — In which the troubles of New- Amsterdam appear to thicken — 
showing the bravery in time of peril, of a people who defend themselves 
by resolutions .......... 421 

Chap. X. — Containing a doleful disaster of Antony the Trumpeter — and how 
Peter Stuyvesant, like a second Cromwell, suddenly dissolved a Rump 
Parliament 429 

Chap. XL — How Peter Stuyvesant defended the city of New- Amsterdam for 
several days, by dint of the strength of his head . . . 434 

Chap. XII. — Containing the dignified retirement, and mortal surrender of Peter 
the Headstrong 442 

Chap. XIII. — The Author's reflections upon what has been said . 449 


The following work, in which, at the outset, nothing more was contem- 
plated than a temporary jeu d'esprit, was commenced in company with my 
brother, the late Peter Irving, Esq. Our idea was to parody a small 
hand-book which had recently appeared, entitled " A Picture of New- 
York." Like that, our work was to begin with an historical sketch ; 
to be followed by notices of the customs, manners, and institutions of the 
city ; written in a serio-comic vein, and treating local errors, follies, and 
abuses with good-humored satire. 

To burlesque the pedantic lore displayed in certain American works, 
our historical sketch was to commence with the creation of the world ; 
and we laid all kinds of works under contribution for trite citations, rele- 
vant or irrelevant, to give it the proper air of learned research. Before 
this crude mass of mock erudition could be digested into form, my brother 
departed for Europe, and I was left to prosecute the enterprise alone. 

1 now altered the plan of the work. Discarding all idea of a parody 
on the Picture of New-York, I determined that what had been originally 
intended as an introductory sketch, should comprise the whole work, and 
form a comic history of the city. I accordingly moulded the mass of 
citations and disquisitions into introductory chapters forming the first 
book ; but it soon became evident to me that, like Robinson Crusoe with 
his boat, I had begun on too large a scale, and that, to launch my history 
successfully, I must reduce its proportions. I accordingly resolved to 
confine it to the period of the Dutch domination, which, in its rise, 


progress, and decline, presented that unity of subject required by 
classic rule. It was a period, also, at that time almost a terra incognita 
in history. In fact, I was surprised to find how few of my fellow-citizens 
were aware that New-York had ever been called New- Amsterdam, or had 
heard of the names of its early Dutch governors, or cared a straw about 
their ancient Dutch progenitors. 

This, then, broke upon me as the poetic age of our city ; poetic from 
its very obscurity ; and open, like the early and obscure days of, ancient 
Rome, to all the embellishments of heroic fiction. I hailed my native 
city, as fortunate above all other American cities, in having an antiquity 
thus extending back into the regions of doubt and fable ; neither did I 
conceive I was committing any grievous historical sin in helping out the 
few facts I could collect in this remote and forgotten region with figments 
of my own brain, or in giving characteristic attributes to the few names 
connected with it which I might dig up from oblivion. 

In this, doubtless, I reasoned like a young and inexperienced writer, 
besotted with his own fancies ; and my presumptuous trespasses into this 
sacred, though neglected, region of history have met with deserved rebuke 
from men of soberer minds. It is too late, however, to recall the shaft 
thus rashly launched. To any one whose sense of fitness it may wound, 
I can only say with Hamlet, 

Let my disclaiming from a purposed evil 
Free me so far in your most generous thoughts, 
That I have shot my arrow o'er the house, 
And hurt my brother. 

I will say this in further apology for my work : that if it has taken an 
unwarrantable liberty with our early provincial history, it has at least 
turned attention to that history and provoked research. It is only since 
this work appeared that the forgotten archives of the province have been 
rummaged, and the facts and personages of the olden time rescued from 
the dust of oblivion and elevated into whatever importance they may actu- 


The main object of my work, in fact, had a bearing wide from the 
sober aim of history ; but one which, I trust, will meet with some indul- 
gence from poetic minds. It was to embody the traditions of our city in 
an amusing form ; to illustrate its local humors, customs, and peculiari- 
ties ; to clothe home scenes and places and familiar names with those 
imaginative and whimsical associations so seldom met with in our new 
country, but which live like charms and spells about the cities of the old 
world, binding the heart of the native inhabitant to his home. 

In this I have reason to believe I have in some measure succeeded. 
Before the appearance of my work the popular traditions of our city were 
unrecorded ; the peculiar and racy customs and usages derived from our 
Dutch progenitors were unnoticed, or regarded with indifference, or 
adverted to with a sneer. Now they form a convivial currency, and are 
brought forward on all occasions ; they link our whole community toge- 
ther in good humor and good fellowship ; they are the rallying points of 
home feeling ; the seasoning of our civic festivities ; the staple of local 
tales and local pleasantries ; and are so harped upon by our writers of 
popular fiction, that I find myself almost crowded off the legendary ground 
which I was the first to explore, by the host who have followed in my 

I dwell on this head because, at the first appearance of my work, its 
aim and drift were misapprehended by some of the descendants of the 
Dutch worthies ; and because I understand that now and then one may 
still be found to regard it with a captious eye. The far greater part, how- 
ever, I have reason to flatter myself, receive my good-humored picturings 
in the same temper with which they were executed ; and when I find, 
after a lapse of nearly forty years, this hap-hazard production of my youth 
still cherished among them ; when I find its very name become a " house- 
hold word," and used to give the home stamp to every thing recommended 
for popular acceptation, such as Knickerbocker societies ; Knickerbocker 
insurance companies ; Knickerbocker steamboats ; Knickerbocker omni- 
buses ; Knickerbocker bread, and Knickerbocker ice ; and when I find 
New-Yorkers of Dutch descent priding themselves upon being " genuine 


Knickerbockers," I please myself with the persuasion that I have struck 
the right chord ; that my dealings with the good old Dutch times, and the 
customs and usages derived from them, are in harmony with the feelings 
and humors of my townsmen ; that I have opened a vein of pleasant associa- 
tions and quaint characteristics peculiar to my native place, and which its 
inhabitants will not willingly suffer to pass away ; and that, though other 
histories of New-York may appear of higher claims to learned acceptation, 
and may take their dignified and appropriate rank in the family library ; 
Knickerbocker's history will still be received with good-humored indul- 
gence, and be thumbed and chuckled over by the family fireside. 

W. I. 
Sunny side, 1848. 



From the Evening Post of October 26, 1809. 


Left his lodgings some time since, and has not since been heard of, a small 
elderly gentleman, dressed in an old black coat and cocked hat, by the name 
of Knickerbocker. As there are some reasons for believing he is not entirely 
in his right mind, and as great anxiety is entertained about him, any informa- 
tion concerning him left either at the Columbian Hotel, Mulberry-street, or at 
the office of this paper, will be thankfully received. 

P. S. Printers of newspapers would be aiding the cause of humanity in 
giving an insertion to the above. 

From the same, November 6, 1809. 
To the Editor of the Evening Post : 

Sir, — Having read in your paper of the 26th October last, a paragraph 
respecting an old gentleman by the name of Knickerbocker, who was missing 
from his lodgings ; if it would be any relief to his friends, or furnish them with 
any clue to discover where he is, you may inform them that a person answering 
the description given, was seen by the passengers of the Albany stage, early in 
the morning, about four or five weeks since, resting himself by the side of the 
road, a little above King's Bridge. He had in his hand a small bundle tied in 
a red bandana handkerchief: he appeared to be traveling northward, and was 
very much fatigued and exhausted. 


From the same, November 16, 1809. 
To the Editor of the Evening Post : 

Sir, — You have been good enough to publish in your paper a paragraph 
about Mr. Diedrich Knickerbocker, who was missing so strangely some time 


since. Nothing satisfactory has been heard of the old gentleman since ; but 
a very curious kind of a written book has been found in his room, in his own 
handwriting. Now I wish you to notice him, if he is still alive, that if he does 
not return and pay off his bill for boarding and lodging, I shall have to dispose 
of his book to satisfy me for the same. 

I am, Sir, your humble servant, 


Landlord of the Independent Columbian Hotel, Mulberry-street, 

From the same, November 28, 1809. 

Inskeep & Bradford have in the press, and will shortly publish, 
A History of New-York, 
In two volumes, duodecimo. Price three dollars. 
Containing an account of its discovery and settlement, with its internal 
policies, manners, customs, wars, &c. &c, under the Dutch government, fur- 
nishing many curious and interesting particulars never before published, and 
which are gathered from various manuscript and other authenticated sour- 
ces, the whole being interspersed with philosophical speculations and moral 

This work was found in the chamber of Mr. Diedrich Knickerbocker, the 
old gentleman whose sudden and mysterious disappearance has been noticed. 
It is published in order to discharge certain debts he has left behind. 

From the American Citizen, December 6, 1809. 

Is this day published 

By Inskeep & Bradford, No. 128 Broadway, 

A History of New-York, 

&c, &c. 

(Containing same as above.) 


It was some time, if I recollect right, in the early part of the 
autumn of 1808, that a stranger applied for lodgings at the Inde- 
pendent Columbian Hotel in Mulberry-street, of which I am 
landlord. He was a small, brisk -looking old gentleman, dressed 
in a rusty black coat, a pair of olive velvet breeches, and a small 
cocked hat. He had a few gray hairs plaited and clubbed behind, 
and his beard seemed to be of some eight-and-forty hours growth. 
The only piece of finery which he bore about him, was a bright 
pair of square silver shoebuckles, and all his baggage was con- 
tained in a pair of saddle-bags, which he carried under his arm. 
His whole appearance was something out of the common run ; 
and my wife, who is a very shrewd body, at once set him down 
for some eminent country schoolmaster. 

As the Independent Columbian Hotel is a very small house, 
I was a little puzzled at first where to put him ; but my wife, 
who seemed taken with his looks, would needs put him in her 
best chamber, which is genteelly set off with the profiles of the 
whole family, done in black, by those two great painters, Jarvis 
and Wood; and commands a very pleasant view of the new 
grounds on the Collect, together with the rear of the Poor House 
and Bridewell, and a full front of the Hospital ; so that it is the 
cheerfullest room in the whole house. 

During the whole time that he stayed with us, we found him a 
very worthy good sort of an old gentleman, though a little queer 



in his ways. He would keep in his room for days together, and 
if any of the children cried, or made a noise about his door, he 
would bounce out in a great passion, with his hands full of papers, 
and say something about " deranging his ideas ;" which made my 
wife believe sometimes that he was not altogether compos. 
Indeed, there was more than one reason to make her think so, 
for his room was always covered with scraps of paper and old 
mouldy books, laying about at sixes and sevens, which he Avould 
never let any body touch ; for he said he had laid them all away 
in their proper places, so that he might know where to find them ; 
though for that matter, he was half his time worrying about the 
house in search of some book or writing which he had carefully 
put out of the way. I shall never forget what a pother he once 
made, because my wife cleaned out his room when his back was 
turned, and put every thing to rights ; for he swore he would 
never be able to get his papers in order again in a twelvemonth. 
Upon this my wife ventured to ask him what he did with so many 
books and papers ; and he told her, that he was " seeking for 
immortality ;" which made her think more than ever, that the 
poor old gentleman's head was a little cracked. 

He was a very inquisitive body, and when not in his room 
was continually poking about town, hearing all the news, and 
prying into every thing that was going on : this was particularly 
the case about election time, when he did nothing but bustle about 
from poll to poll, attending all ward meetings and committee 
rooms ; though I could never find that he took part with either 
side of the question. On the contrary, he would come home and 
rail at both parties with great wrath — and plainly proved one 
day, to the satisfaction of my Avife and three old ladies who were 
drinking tea with her, that the two parties were like two rogues, 


each tugging at a skirt of the nation ; and that in the end they 
would tear the very coat off its back, and expose its nakedness. 
Indeed he was an oracle among the neighbors, who would collect 
around him to hear him talk of an afternoon, as he smoked his 
pipe on the bench before the door ; and I really believe he would 
have brought over the whole neighborhood to his own side of the 
question, if they could ever have found out what it was. 

He was very much given to argue, or, as he called it, philoso- 
phize, about the most trifling matter ; and to do him justice, I 
never knew any body that was a match for him, except it was a 
grave looking old gentleman who called now and then to see him, 
and often posed him in an argument. But this is nothing sur- 
prising, as I have since found out this stranger is the city libra- 
rian ; who, of course, must be a man of great learning : and I 
have my doubts, if he had not some hand in the following history. 

As our lodger had been a long time with us, and we had 
never received any pay, my wife began to be somewhat uneasy, 
and curious to find out who and what he was. She accordingly 
made bold to put the question to his friend, the librarian, who 
replied in his dry way that he was one of the literati, which she 
supposed to mean some new party in politics. I scorn to push 
a lodger for his pay ; so I let day after day pass on without 
dunning the old gentleman for a farthing: but my wife, who 
always takes these matters on herself, and is, as I said, a shrewd 
kind of a woman, at last got out of patience, and hinted, that she 
thought it high time " some people should have a sight of some 
people's money." To which the old gentleman replied, in a mighty 
touchy manner, that she need not make herself uneasy, for that 
he had a treasure there, (pointing to his saddle-bags,) worth her 
whole house put together. This was the only answer we could 


ever get from him ; and as my wife, by some of those odd ways 
in which women find out every thing, learnt that he was of very 
great connections, being related to the Knickerbockers of Scagh- 
tikoke, and cousin-german to the congressman of that name, she 
did not like to treat him uncivilly. What is more, she even 
offered, merely by way of making things easy, to let him live 
scot-free, if he would teach the children their letters ; and to try 
her best and get her neighbors to send their children also : but 
the old gentleman took it in such dudgeon, and seemed so affronted 
at being taken for a schoolmaster, that she never dared to speak 
on the subject again. 

About two months ago, he went out of a morning, with a 
bundle in his hand — and has never been heard of since. All 
kinds of inquiries were made after him, but in vain. I wrote to 
his relations at Scaghtikoke, but they sent for answer, that he had 
not been there since the year before last, when he had a great 
dispute with the congressman about politics, and left the place in 
a huff, and they had neither heard nor seen any thing of him 
from that time to this. I must own I felt very much worried 
about the poor old gentleman, for I thought something bad must 
have happened to him, that he should be missing so long, and 
never return to pay his bill. I therefore advertised him in the 
newspapers, and though my melancholy advertisement was pub- 
lished by several humane printers, yet I have never been able to 
learn any thing satisfactory about him. 

My wife now said it was high time to take care of ourselves, 
and see if he had left any thing behind in his room, that would 
pay us for his board and lodging. We found nothing, however, 
but some old books and musty writings, and his saddle-bags ; 
wfrch, being opened in the presence of the librarian, contained 


only a few articles of worn-out clothes, and a large bundle of 
blotted paper. On looking over this, the librarian told us, he 
had no doubt it was the treasure which the old gentleman had 
spoken about ; as it proved to be a most excellent and faithful 
History of New- York, which he advised us by all means to 
publish : assuring us that it would be so eagerly bought up by a 
discerning public, that he had no doubt it would be enough to 
pay our arrears ten times over. Upon this we got a very learned 
schoolmaster, who teaches our children, to prepare it for the 
press, which he accordingly has done ; and has, moreover, added 
to it a number of valuable notes of his own. 

This, therefore, is a true statement of my reasons for having 
this work printed, without waiting for the consent of the author : 
and I here declare, that if he ever returns, (though I much fear 
some unhappy accident has befallen him,) I stand ready to account 
with him like a true and honest man. Which is all at present, 
From the public's humble servant, 

Seth Handaside. 
Independent Columbian Hotel, New- York. 

The foregoing account of the author was prefixed to the first 
edition of this work. Shortly after its publication a letter was 
received from him, by Mr. Handaside, dated at a small Dutch 
village on the banks of the Hudson, whither he had travelled for 
the purpose of inspecting certain ancient records. As this was 
one of those few and happy villages, into which newspapers 
never find their way, it is not a matter of surprise, that Mr. 
Knickerbocker should never have seen the numerous advertise- 
ments that were made concerning him ; and that he should learn 
of the publication of his history by mere accident. 


He expressed much concern at its premature appearance, as 
thereby he was prevented from making several important cor- 
rections and alterations : as well as from profiting by many curious 
hints which he had collected during his travels along the shores 
of the Tappan Sea, and his sojourn at Haverstraw and Esopus. 

Finding that there was no longer any immediate necessity for 
his return to New-York, he extended his journey up to the resi- 
dence of his relations at Scaghtikoke. On his way thither, he 
stopped for some days at Albany, for which city he is known to 
have entertained a great partiality. He found it, however, con- 
siderably altered, and was much concerned at the inroads and 
improvements which the Yankees were making, and the conse- 
quent decline of the good old Dutch manners. Indeed, he was 
informed that these intruders were making sad innovations in all 
parts of the state; where they had given great trouble and 
vexation to the regular Dutch settlers, by the introduction of 
turnpike gates, and country school-houses. It is said also, that 
Mr. Knickerbocker shook his head • sorrowfully at noticing the 
gradual decay of the great Vander Heyden palace; but was 
highly indignant at finding that the ancient Dutch church, which 
stood in the middle of the street, had been pulled down, since his 
last visit. 

The fame of Mr. Knickerbocker's history having reached 
even to Albany, he received much flattering attention from its 
worthy burghers, some of whom, however, pointed out two or 
three very great errors he had fallen into, particularly that of 
suspending a lump of sugar over the Albany tea-tables, which, 
they assured him, had been discontinued for some years past. 
Several families, moreover, were somewhat piqued that their 
ancestors had not been mentioned in his work, and showed great 


jealousy of their neighbors who had thus been distinguished ; 
while the latter, it must be confessed, plumed themselves vastly 
thereupon; considering these recordings in the light of letters- 
patent of nobility, establishing their claims to ancestry — which, 
in this republican country, is a matter of no little solicitude and 

It is also said, that he enjoyed high favor and countenance 
from the governor, who once asked him to dinner, and was seen 
two or three times to shake hands with him, when they met in 
the street ; which certainly was going great lengths, considering 
that they differed in politics. Indeed, certain of the governor's 
confidential friends, to whom he could venture to speak his mind 
freely on such matters, have assured us, that he privately enter- 
tained a considerable good will for our author — nay, he even once 
went so far as to declare, and that openly too, and at his OAvn 
table, just after dinner, that " Knickerbocker was a very well 
meaning sort of an old gentleman, and no fool." From all which 
many have been led to suppose, that had our author been of differ- 
ent politics, and written for the newspapers instead of wasting his 
talents on histories, he might have risen to some post of honor 
and profit : peradventure, to be a notary public, or even a justice 
in the ten-pound court. 

Beside the honors and civilities already mentioned, he was 
much caressed by the literati of Albany; particularly by Mr. 
John Cook, who entertained him very hospitably at his circulating 
library, and reading room, where they used to drink Spa water, 
and talk about the ancients. He found Mr. Cook a man after his 
own heart — of great literary research, and a curious collector 
of books. At parting, the latter, in testimony of friendship, made 
him a present of the two oldest works in his collection ; which 


were the earliest edition of the Heidelberg Catechism, and 
Adrian Vander Donck's famous account of the New Netherlands : 
by the last of which, Mr. Knickerbocker profited greatly in this 
his second edition. 

Having passed some time very agreeably at Albany, our 
author proceeded to Scaghtikoke : where, it is but justice to say, 
he was received with open arms, and treated with wonderful 
loving-kindness. He was much looked up to by the family, being 
the first historian of the name ; and was considered almost as great 
a man as his cousin the congressman — with whom, by the by, he 
became perfectly reconciled, and contracted a strong friendship. 

In spite, however, of the kindness of his relations, and their 
great attention to his comforts, the old gentleman soon became 
restless and discontented. His history being published, he had 
no longer any business to occupy his thoughts, or any scheme to 
excite his hopes and anticipations. This, to a busy mind like his, 
was a truly deplorable situation ; and, had he not been a man of 
inflexible morals and regular habits, there would have been great 
danger of his taking to politics, or drinking — both which pernicious 
vices we daily see men driven to, by mere spleen and idleness. 

It is true, he sometimes employed himself in preparing a 
second edition of his history, wherein he endeavored to correct 
and improve many passages with which he was dissatisfied, and 
to rectify some mistakes that had crept into it ; for he was par- 
ticularly anxious that his work should be noted for its authenticity ; 
which, indeed, is the very life and soul of history. — But the glow 
of composition had departed — he had to leave many places 
untouched, which he would fain have altered ; and even where 
he did make alterations, he seemed always in doubt whether they 
were for the better or the worse. 


After a residence of some time at Scaghtikoke, he began to 
feel a strong desire to return to New- York, which he ever regarded 
with the warmest affection ; not merely because it was his native 
city, but because he really considered it the very best city in the 
whole world. On his return, he entered into the full enjoyment 
of the advantages of a literary reputation. He was continually 
importuned to write advertisements, petitions, handbills, and pro- 
ductions of similar import ; and, although he never meddled with 
the public papers, yet had- he the credit of writing innumerable 
essays, and smart things, that appeared on all subjects, and all 
sides of the question ; in all which he was clearly detected " by 
his style." 

He contracted, moreover, a considerable debt at the post-office, 
in consequence of the numerous letters he received from authors 
and printers soliciting his subscription, and he was applied to by 
every charitable society for yearly donations, which he gave 
very cheerfully, considering these applications as so many com- 
pliments. He was once invited to a great corporation dinner ; 
and was even twice summoned to attend as a juryman at the 
court of quarter sessions. Indeed, so renowned did he become, 
that he could no longer pry about, as formerly, in all holes and 
corners of the city, according to the bent of his humor, unnoticed 
and uninterrupted ; but several times when he has been saunter- 
ing the streets, on his usual rambles of observation, equipped 
with his cane and cocked hat, the little boys at play have been 
known to cry, " there goes Diedrich !" — at which the old gentle- 
man seemed not a little pleased, looking upon these salutations in 
the light of the praise of posterity. 

In a word, if we take into consideration all these various 
honors and distinctions, together with an exuberant eulogium, 


passed on him in the Port Folio — (with which, we are told, the 
old gentleman was so much overpowered, that he was sick for 
two or three days) — it must be confessed, that few authors have 
ever lived to receive such illustrious rewards, or have so com- 
pletely enjoyed in advance their own immortality. 

After his return from Scaghtikoke, Mr. Knickerbocker took 
up his residence at a little rural retreat, which the Stuyvesants 
had granted him on the family domain, in gratitude for his honor- 
able mention of their ancestor. It was pleasantly situated on the 
borders of one of the salt marshes beyond Corlear's Hook : sub- 
ject, indeed, to be occasionally overflowed, and much infested, in 
the summer time, with musquitoes ; but otherwise very agreeable, 
producing abundant crops of salt grass and bulrushes. 

Here, we are sorry to say, the good old gentleman fell dan- 
gerously ill of a fever, occasioned by the neighboring marshes. 
When he found his end approaching, he disposed of his worldly 
affairs, leaving the bulk of his fortune to the New- York Historical 
Society : his Heidelberg Catechism, and Vander Donck's work to 
the city library ; and his saddle-bags to Mr. Handaside. He for- 
gave all his enemies — that is to say, all who bore any enmity 
towards him ; for as to himself, he declared he died in good will 
with all the world. And, after dictating several kind messages to 
his relations at Scaghtikoke, as well as to certain of our most 
substantial Dutch citizens, he expired in the arms of his friend 
the librarian. 

His remains were interred, according to his own request, in 
St. Mark's churchyard, close by the bones of his favorite hero, 
Peter Stuyvesant : and it is rumored, that the Historical Society 
have it in mind to erect a wooden monument to his memory in 
the Bowling- Green. 


" To rescue from oblivion the memory of former incidents, and 
to render a just tribute of renown to the many great and wonder- 
ful transactions of our Dutch progenitors, Diedrich Knickerbocker, 
native of the city of New- York, produces this historical essay."* 
Like the great Father of History, whose words I have just quoted, 
I treat of times long past, over which the twilight of uncertainty 
had already thrown its shadows, and the night of forgetfulness 
was about to descend for ever. With great solicitude had I long 
beheld the early history of this venerable and ancient city gradu- 
ally slipping from our grasp, trembling on the lips of narrative 
old age, and day by day dropping piecemeal into the tomb. In a 
little while, thought I, and those reverend Dutch burghers, who 
serve as the tottering monuments of good old times, will be 
gathered to their fathers ; their children, engrossed by the empty 
pleasures or insignificant transactions of the present age, will 
neglect to treasure up the recollections of the past, and posterity 
will search in vain for memorials of the days of the Patriarchs. 
The origin of our city will be buried in eternal oblivion, and 
even the names and achievements of Wouter Van Twiller, Wil- 
liam Kieft, and Peter Stuyvesant, be enveloped in doubt and 
fiction, like those of Romulus and Remus, of Charlemagne, khig 
Arthur, Rinaldo, and Godfrey of Bologne. 

* Beloe's Herodotus. 


Determined, therefore, to avert if possible this threatened 
misfortune, I industriously set myself to work, to gather together 
all the fragments of our infant history which still existed, and like 
my revered prototype, Herodotus, where no written records could 
be found, I have endeavored to continue the chain of history by 
well-authenticated traditions. 

In this arduous undertaking, which has been the whole busi- 
ness of a long and solitary life, it is incredible the number of 
learned authors I have consulted ; and all but to little purpose. 
Strange as it may seem, though such multitudes of excellent 
works have been written about this country, there are none ex- 
tant which gave any full and satisfactory account of the early 
history of New- York, or of its three first Dutch governors. I 
have, however, gained much valuable and curious matter, from 
an elaborate manuscript written in exceeding pure and classic 
low Dutch, excepting a few errors in orthography, which was 
found in the archives of the Stuyvesant family. Many legends, 
letters and other documents have I likewise gleaned, in my re- 
searches among the family chests and lumber garrets of our 
respectable Dutch citizens ; and I have gathered a host of well- 
authenticated traditions from divers excellent old ladies of my 
acquaintance, who requested that their names might not be 
mentioned. Nor must I neglect to acknowledge how greatly I 
have been assisted by that admirable and praiseworthy institution, 
the New-York Historical Society, to which I here publicly 
return my sincere acknowledgments. 

In the conduct of this inestimable work I have adopted no 
individual model; but on the contrary have simply contented 
myself with combining and concentrating the excellences of the 
most approved ancient historians. Like Xenophon, I have main- 


tained the utmost impartiality, and the strictest adherence to 
truth throughout my history. I have enriched it after the man- 
ner of Sallust, with various characters of ancient worthies, drawn 
at full length and faithfully colored. I have seasoned it with 
profound political speculations like Thucydides, sweetened it with 
the graces of sentiment like Tacitus, and infused into the whole 
the dignity, the grandeur, and magnificence of Livy. 

I am aware that I shall incur the censure of numerous very 
learned and judicious critics, for indulging too frequently in the 
bold excursive manner of my favorite Herodotus. And to be 
candid, I have found it impossible always to resist the allure- 
ments of those pleasing episodes which, like flowery banks and 
fragrant bowers, beset the dusty road of the historian, and entice 
him to turn aside, and refresh himself from his wayfaring. But 
I trust it will be found, that I have always resumed my staff, and 
addressed myself to my weary journey with renovated spirits, so 
that both my readers and myself have been benefited by the 

Indeed, though it has been my constant wish and uniform 
endeavor to rival Polybius himself, in observing the requisite unity 
of History, yet the loose and unconnected manner in which many 
of the facts herein recorded have come to hand, rendered such 
an attempt extremely difficult. Tins difficulty was likewise 
increased, by one of the grand objects contemplated in my work, 
which was to trace the rise of sundry customs and institutions in 
tins best of cities, and to compare them, when in the germ of 
infancy, with what they are in the present old age of knowledge 
and improvement. 

But the chief merit on which I value myself, and found my 
hopes for future regard, is that faithful veracity with which I 



have compiled this invaluable little work ; carefully winnowing 
away the chaff of hypothesis, and discarding the tares of fable, 
which are too apt to spring up and choke the seeds of truth and 
wholesome knowledge. — Had I been anxious to captivate the 
superficial throng, who skim like swallows over the surface of 
literature ; or had I been anxious to commend my writings to the 
pampered palates of literary epicures, I might have availed my- 
self of the obscurity that overshadows the infant years of our 
city, to introduce a thousand pleasing fictions. But I have 
scrupulously discarded many a pithy tale and marvelous adven- 
ture, whereby the drowsy ear of summer indolence might be 
enthralled ; jealously maintaining that fidelity, gravity, and dignity, 
which should ever distinguish the historian. " For a writer of 
this class," observes an elegant critic, " must sustain the character 
of a wise man, writing for the instruction of posterity ; one who 
has studied to inform himself well, who has pondered his subject 
with care, and addresses himself to our judgment, rather than to 
our imagination." 

Thrice happy, therefore, is this our renowned city, in having 
incidents worthy of swelling the theme of history ; and doubly 
thrice happy is it in having such an historian as myself to relate 
them. For after all, gentle reader, cities of themselves, and, in 
fact, empires of themselves, are nothing without an historian. It 
is the patient narrator who records their prosperity as they rise — 
who blazons forth the splendor of their noontide meridian — who 
props their feeble memorials as they totter to decay — who gathers 
together their scattered fragments as they rot — and who piously, 
at length, collects their ashes into the mausoleum of his work, 
and rears a monument that will transmit their renown to all suc- 
ceeding ages. 


What has been the fate of many fair cities of antiquity, whose 
nameless ruins encumber the plains of Europe and Asia, and 
awaken the fruitless inquiry of the traveler? — they have sunk 
into dust and silence — they have perished from remembrance for 
want of an historian ! The philanthropist may weep over their 
desolation — the poet may wander among their mouldering arches 
and broken columns, and indulge the visionary flights of his fancy 
— but alas ! alas ! the modern historian, whose pen, like my 
own, is doomed to confine itself to dull matter of fact, seeks in 
vain among their oblivious remains, for some memorial that may 
tell the instructive tale of their glory and their ruin. 

" Wars, conflagrations, deluges," says Aristotle, " destroy 
nations, and with them all their monuments, their discoveries, and 
their vanities. — The torch of science has more than once been 
extinguished and rekindled — a few individuals, who have es- 
caped by accident, reunite the thread of generations." 

The same sad misfortune which has happened to so many 
ancient cities, will happen again, and from the same sad cause, to 
nine-tenths of those which now flourish on the face of the globe. 
With most of them the time for recording their early history is 
gone by ; their origin, their foundation, together with the event- 
ful period of their youth, are for ever buried in the rubbish of 
years ; and the same would have been the case with this fair 
portion of the earth, if I had not snatched it from obscurity in 
the very nick of time, at the moment that those matters herein 
recorded were about entering into the wide-spread insatiable maw 
of oblivion — if I had not dragged them out, as it were, by the 
very locks, just as the monster's adamantine fangs were closing 
upon them for ever ! And here have I, as before observed, care- 
fully collected, collated, and arranged them, scrip and scrap, 


"punt en punt, gat en gat" and commenced in this little work, a 
history to serve as a foundation, on which other historians may 
hereafter raise a noble superstructure, swelling in process of time, 
until Knickerbocker's New-York may be equally voluminous with 
Gibbon's Rome, or Hume and Smollefs England! 

And now indulge me for a moment, while I lay down my 
pen, skip to some little eminence at the distance of two or three 
hundred years ahead ; and, casting back a bird's-eye glance over 
the waste of years that is to roll between, discover myself — little 
I — at this moment the progenitor, prototype, and precursor of 
them all, posted at the head of this host of literary worthies, 
with my book under my arm, and New- York on my back, press- 
ing forward, like a gallant commander, to honor and immortality. 

Such are the vainglorious imaginings that will now and 
then enter into the brain of the author — that irradiate, as with 
celestial light, his solitary chamber, cheering his weary spirits, 
and animating him to persevere in his labors. And I have freely 
given utterance to these rhapsodies whenever they have occurred ; 
not, I trust, from an unusual spirit of egotism, but merely that 
the reader may for once have an idea, how an author thinks and 
feels while he is writing — a kind of knowledge very rare and 
curious, and much to be desired. 






According to the best authorities, the world in which we dwell 
is a huge, opaque, reflecting, inanimate mass, floating in the vast 
ethereal ocean of infinite space. It has the form of an orange, 
being an oblate spheroid, curiously flattened at opposite parts, 
for the insertion of two imaginary poles, which are supposed to 
penetrate and unite at the centre ; thus forming an axis on which 
the mighty orange turns with a regular diurnal revolution. 

The transitions of light and darkness, whence proceed the 
alternations of day and night, are produced by this diurnal revo- 
lution successively presenting the different parts of the earth to 
the rays of the sun. The latter is, according to the best, that is 
to say, the latest accounts, a luminous or fiery body, of a prodi- 
gious magnitude, from which this world is driven by a centrifugal 
or repelling power, and to which it is drawn by a centripetal or 
attractive force; otherwise called the attraction of gravitation; 
the combination, or rather the counteraction of these two opposing 


impulses producing a circular and annual revolution. Hence 
result the different seasons of the year, viz., spring, summer, 
autumn, and winter. 

This I believe to be the most approved modern theory on the 
subject — though there be many philosophers who have entertained 
very different opinions; some, too, of them entitled to much 
deference from their great antiquity and illustrious characters. 
Thus it was advanced by some of the ancient sages, that the 
earth was an extended plain, supported by vast pillars ; and by 
others, that it rested on the head of a snake, or the back of a 
huge tortoise^ — but as they did not provide a resting place for 
either the pillars or the tortoise, the whole theory fell to the 
ground, for want of proper foundation. 

The Brahmins assert, that the heavens rest upon the earth, 
and the sun and moon swim therein like fishes in the water, 
moving from east to west by day, and gliding along the edge of 
the horizon to their original stations during night ;* while, accord- 
ing to the Pauranicas of India, it is a vast plain, encircled by 
seven oceans of milk, nectar, and other delicious liquids ; that it 
is studded with seven mountains, and ornamented in the centre 
by a mountainous rock of burnished gold ; and that a great dragon 
occasionally swallows up the moon, which accounts for the phe- 
nomena of lunar eclipses.f 

Beside these, and many other equally sage opinions, we have 
the profound conjectures of Aboul-Hassan-Aly, son of Al Khan, 
son of Aly, son of Abderrahman, son of Abdallah, son of Masoud- 
el-Hadheli, who is commonly called Masoudi, and surnamed Coth- 
biddin, but who takes the humble title of Laheb-ar-rasoul, which 

* Faria y Souza. Mick. lus. note b. 7. 
f Sir W. Jones, Diss. Antiq. Inci. Zod. 


means the companion of the ambassador of God. He has written 
a universal history, entitled " Mouroudge-ed-dharab, or the Gold- 
en Meadows, and the Mines of Precious Stones."* In this 
valuable work he has related the history of the world, from the 
creation down to the moment of writing ; which was under the 
Khaliphat of Mothi Billah, in the month Dgioumadi-el-aoual of 
the 336th year of the Hegira or flight of the Prophet. He in- 
forms us that the earth is a huge bird, Mecca and Medina consti- 
tuting the head, Persia and India the right wing, the land of Gog 
the left wing, and Africa the tail. He informs us, moreover, that 
an earth has existed before the present (which he considers as a 
mere chicken of 7000 years), that it has undergone divers deluges, 
and that, according to the opinion of some well-informed Brah- 
mins of his acquaintance, it will be renovated every seventy 
thousandth hazarouam ; each hazarouam consisting of 12,000 

These are a few of the many contradictory opinions of phi- 
losophers concerning the earth, and we find that the learned have 
had equal perplexity as to the nature of the sun. Some of the 
ancient philosophers have affirmed that it is a vast wheel of bril- 
liant fire ;t others that it is merely a mirror or sphere of trans- 
parent crystal ;| and a third class, at the head of whom stands 
Anaxagoras, maintained that it was nothing but a huge ignited 
mass of iron or stone — indeed, he declared the heavens to be mere- 
ly a vault of stone — and that the stars were stones whirled up- 
ward from the earth, and set on fire by the velocity of its revolu- 

* Mss. Bibliot. Roi. Fr. 

t Plutarch de placitis Philosoph. lib. ii. cap. 20. 

t Achill. Tat. isag. cap. 19. Ap. Petav. t. iii. p. 81. Stob. Eclog. Phys. 
lib. i. p. 56. Plut. de Plac. Phi. 


tions.* But 'I give little attention to the doctrines of this phi- 
losopher, the people of Athens having fully refuted them, by 
banishing him from their city ; a concise mode of answering un- 
welcome doctrines, much resorted to in former days. Another 
sect of philosophers do declare, that certain fiery particles exhale 
constantly from the earth, which concentrating in a single point 
of the firmament by day, constitute the sun, but being scattered 
and rambling about in the dark at night, collect in various points, 
and form stars. These are regularly burnt out and extinguished, 
not unlike to the lamps in our street, and require a fresh supply 
of exhalations for the next occasion.! 

It is even recorded, that at certain remote and obscure periods, 
in consequence of a great scarcity of fuel, the sun has been com- 
pletely burnt out, and sometimes not rekindled for a month at a 
time. A most melancholy circumstance, the very idea of which 
gave vast concern to Heraclitus, that worthy weeping philoso- 
pher of antiquity. In addition to these various speculations, it 
was the opinion of Herschel, that the sun is a magnificent, habi- 
table abode ; the light it furnishes arising from certain empyreal, 
luminous or phosphoric clouds, swimming in its transparent at- 

But we will not enter farther at present into the nature of the 
sun, that being an inquiry not immediately necessary to the de- 
velopment of this history ; neither will we embroil ourselves in 

* Diogenes Laertius in Anaxag. 1. ii. sec. 8. Plat. Apol. t. i. p. 26. Plut. 
de Plac. Philo. Xenoph. Mem. 1 iv. p. 815. 

f Aristot. Meteor. 1. ii. c. 2. Idem. Probl sec. 15, Stob. Eel. Phys. 1. i. p. 55. 
Brack. Hist. Phil. t. i. p. 1154, &c. 

X Philos. Trans. 1795. p. 72. Idem. 1801. p. 265. Nich. Philos. Journ. I. 
p. 13. 


any more of the endless disputes of philosophers touching the form 
of this globe, but content ourselves with the theory advanced in 
the beginning of this chapter, and will proceed to illustrate, by 
experiment, the complexity of motion therein ascribed to this our 
rotatory planet. 

Professor Von Poddingcoffc (or Puddinghead, as the name 
may be rendered into English,) was long celebrated in the uni- 
versity of Leyden, for profound gravity of deportment, and a 
talent at going to sleep in the midst of examinations, to the infi- 
nite relief of his hopeful students, who thereby worked their way 
through college with great ease and little study. In the course 
of one of his lectures, the learned professor, seizing a bucket of 
water, swung it around his head at arm's length. The impulse 
with which he threw the vessel from him, being a centrifugal 
force, the retention of his arm operating as a centripetal power, 
and the bucket, which was a substitute for the earth, describing a 
circular orbit round about the globular head and ruby visage of 
Professor Von Poddingcoffc, which formed no bad representation 
of the sun. All of these particulars were duly explained to the 
class of gaping students around him. He apprised them, more- 
over, that the same principle of gravitation, which retained the 
water in the bucket, restrains the ocean from flying from the earth 
in its rapid revolutions ; and he farther informed them that should 
the motion of the earth be suddenly checked, it would inconti- 
nently fall into the sun, through the centripetal force of gravitation , 
a most ruinous event to this planet, and one which would also 
obscure, though it most probably would not extinguish, the solar 
luminary. An unlucky stripling, one of those vagrant geniuses, 
who seem sent into the world merely to annoy worthy men of the 
puddinghead order, desirous of ascertaining the correctness of the 




experiment, suddenly arrested the arm of the professor, just at 
the moment that the bucket was in its zenith, which immediately 
decended with astonishing precision upon the philosophic head of 
the instructor of youth. A hollow sound, and a red-hot hiss, at- 
tended the contact ; but the theory was in the amplest manner 
illustrated, for the unfortunate bucket perished in the conflict; 
but the blazing countenance of Professor Von Podclingcoft emerged 
from amidst the waters, glowing fiercer than ever with unuttera- 
ble indignation, whereby the students were marvelously edified, 
and departed considerably wiser than before. 

It is a mortifying circumstance, which greatly perplexes many 
a painstaking philosopher, that nature often refuses to second his 
most profound and elaborate efforts ; so that after having invented 
one of the most ingenious and natural theories imaginable, she 
will have the perverseness to act directly in the teeth of his system, 
and flatly contradict his most favorite positions. This is a mani- 
fest and unmerited grievance, since it throws the censure of the 
vulgar and unlearned entirely upon the philosopher ; whereas the 
fault is not to be ascribed to his theory, which is unquestionably 
correct, but to the waywardness of dame nature, who, with the 
proverbial fickleness of her sex, is continually indulging in 
coquetries and caprices, and seems really to take pleasure in vio- 
lating all philosophic rules, and jilting the most learned and inde- 
fatigable of her adorers. Thus it happened with respect to the 
foregoing satisfactory explanation of the motion of our planet ; it 
appears that the centrifugal force has long since ceased to operate, 
while its antagonist remains in undiminished potency : the world, 
therefore, according to the theory as it originally stood, ought in 
strict propriety to tumble into the sun ; philosophers were convinced 
that it would do so, and awaited in anxious impatience the ful- 


fillment of their prognostics. But the untoward planet pertina- 
ciously continued her course, notwithstanding that she had reason, 
philosophy, and a whole university of learned professors opposed 
to her conduct. The philosophers took this in very ill part, and 
it is thought they would never have pardoned the slight and af- 
front which they conceived put upon them by the world, had not 
a good-natured professor kindly officiated as a mediator between 
the parties, and effected a reconciliation. 

Finding the world would not accommodate itself to the theory, 
he wisely determined to accommodate the theory to the world : he 
therefore informed his brother philosophers, that the circular mo- 
tion of the earth round the sun was no sooner engendered by the 
conflicting impulses above described, than it became a regular 
revolution, independent of the causes which gave it origin. His 
learned brethren readily joined in the opinion, being heartily glad 
of any explanation that would decently extricate them from their 
embarrassment — and ever since that memorable era the world has 
been left to take her own course, and to revolve around the sun 
in such orbit as she thinks proper. 



Having thus briefly introduced my reader to the world, and 
given him some idea of its form and situation, he will naturally 
be curious to know from whence it came, and how it was created. 
And, indeed, the clearing up of these points is absolutely essen- 
tial to my history, inasmuch as if this world had not been formed, 
it is more than probable, that this renowned island on which is 
situated the city of New- York, would never have had an existence. 
The regular course of my history, therefore, requires that I should 
proceed to notice the cosmogony or formation of this our globe. 

And now I give my readers fair warning, that I am about to 
plunge, for a chapter or two, into as complete a labyrinth as ever 
historian was perplexed withal : therefore, I advise them to take 
fast hold of my skirts, and keep close at my heels, venturing 
neither to the right hand nor to the left, lest they get bemired in 
a slough of unintelligible learning, or have their brains knocked 
out by some of those hard Greek names which will be flying 
about in all directions. But should any of them be too indolent 


or chicken-hearted to accompany me in this perilous undertaking, 
they had better take a short cut round, and wait for me at the 
beginning of some smoother chapter. 

Of the creation of the world, we have a thousand contradic- 
tory accounts ; and though a very satisfactory one is furnished us 
by divine revelation, yet every philosopher feels himself in honor 
bound to furnish us with a better. As an impartial historian, I 
consider it my duty to notice their several theories, by which 
mankind have been so exceedingly edified and instructed. 

Thus it was the opinion of certain ancient sages, that the earth 
and the whole system of the universe was the Deity himself;* a 
doctrine most strenuously maintained by Zenophanes and the 
whole tribe of Eleatics, as also by Strabo and the sect of peri- 
patetic philosophers. Pythagoras likewise inculcated the famous 
numerical system of the monad, dyad, and triad, and by means 
of his sacred quaternary elucidated the formation of the world, 
the arcana of nature, and the principles both of music and 
morals.f Other sages adhered to the mathematical system of 
squares and triangles ; the cube, the pyramid, and the sphere ; 
the tetrahedron, the octahedron, the icosahedron, and the dodeca- 
hedron.]: While others advocated the great elementary theory, 
which refers the construction of our globe and all that it contains, 
to the combinations of four material elements, air, earth, fire, and 
water ; with the assistance of a fifth, an immaterial and vivifying 

Nor must I omit to mention the great atomic system taught 

* Aristot. ap. Cic. lib. i. cap. 3. 

t Aristot. Metaph. lib. i. c. 5. Idem, de Ccelo. 1. iii. c. 1. Rousseau mem. 
sur Musique ancien. p. 39. Plutarch de Plac. Philos. lib. i. cap. 3. 
I Tim. Locr. ap. Plato, t. iii. p. 90. 


by old Moschus, before the siege of Troy ; revived by Democ- 
ritus of laughing memory ; improved by Epicurus, that king of 
good fellows, and modernized by the fanciful Descartes. But 
I decline inquiring, whether the atoms, of which the earth is said 
to be composed, are eternal or recent ; whether they are animate 
or inanimate ; whether, agreeably to the opinion of the atheists, 
they were fortuitously aggregated, or, as the theists maintain, 
were arranged by a supreme intelligence.* Whether, in fact, 
the earth be an insensate clod, or whether it be animated by a 
soul ;f which opinion was strenuously maintained by a host of 
philosophers, at the head of whom stands the great Plato, that 
temperate sage, who threw the cold water of philosophy on the 
form of sexual intercourse, and inculcated the doctrine of Plato- 
nic love — an exquisitely refined intercourse, but much better 
adapted to the ideal inhabitants of his imaginary island of Atlan- 
tis than to the sturdy race, composed of rebellious flesh and 
blood, which populates the little matter of fact island we inhabit. 
Beside these systems, we have, moreover, the poetical theo- 
gony of old Hesiod, who generated the whole universe in the 
regular mode of procreation, and the plausible opinion of others, 
that the earth was hatched from the great egg of night, which 
floated in chaos, and was cracked by the horns of the celestial 
bull. To illustrate this last doctrine, Burnet in his theory of the 
earth, I has favored us with an accurate drawing and description, 
both of the form and texture of this mundane egg ; which is 

* Aristot. Nat. Auscult. 1. ii. cap. 6. Aristoph. Metaph. lib. i. cap. 3. 
Cic. de Nat. Deor. lib. i. cap. 10. Justin Mart. orat. ad gent. p. 20. 

t Mosheim in Cudw. lib. i. cap. 4. Tim. de anim. mund. ap. Plat. lib. 
iii. Mem. de l'Acad. des Belles-Lettr. t. xxxii. p. 19, et al. 

t Book i. ch. 5. 


found to bear a marvellous resemblance to that of a goose. 
Such of my readers as take a proper interest in the origin of 
this our planet, will be pleased to learn, that the most profound 
sages of antiquity, among the Egyptians, Chaldeans, Persians, 
Greeks, and Latins, have alternately assisted at the hatching of 
this strange bird, and that their cacklings have been caught, and 
continued in different tones and inflections, from philosopher to 
philosopher, unto the present day. 

But while briefly noticing long celebrated systems of ancient 
sages, let me not pass over with neglect those of other philo- 
sophers ; which, though less universal and renowned, have equal 
claims to attention, and equal chance for correctness. Thus it 
is recorded by the Brahmins, in the pages of their inspired 
Shastah, that the angel Bistnoo, transforming himself into a 
great boar, plunged into the watery abyss, and brought up the 
earth on his tusks. Then issued from him a mighty tortoise, 
and a mighty snake ; and Bistnoo placed the snake erect upon 
the back of the tortoise, and he placed the earth upon the head 
of the snake.* 

The negro philosophers of Congo affirm that the world was 
made by the hands of angels, excepting their own country, which 
the Supreme Being constructed himself, that it might be supremely 
excellent. And he took great pains with the inhabitants, and 
made them very black, and beautiful ; and when he had finished 
the first man, he was well pleased with him, and smoothed him 
over the face, and hence his nose, and the nose of all his descend- 
ants, became flat. 

The Mohawk philosophers tell us, that a pregnant woman 

* Holwell. Gent. Philosophy, 


fell down from heaven, and that a tortoise took her upon its back, 
because every place was covered with water ; and that the woman, 
sitting upon the tortoise, paddled with her hands in the water, 
and raked up the earth, whence it finally happened that the earth 
became higher than the water.* 

But I forbear to quote a number more of these ancient and 
outlandish philosophers, whose deplorable ignorance, in despite 
of all their erudition, compelled them to write in languages 
which but few of my readers can understand; and I shall 
proceed briefly to notice a few more intelligible and fashionable 
theories of their modern successors. 

And, first, I shall mention the great Buffon, who conjectures 
that this globe was originally a globe of liquid fire, scintillated 
from the body of the sun, by the percussion of a comet, as a 
spark is generated by the collision of flint and steel. That at 
first it was surrounded by gross vapors, which, cooling and 
condensing in process of time, constituted, according to their 
densities, earth, water, and air ; which gradually arranged them- 
selves, according to their respective gravities, round the burning 
or vitrified mass that formed their centre. 

Hutton, on the contrary, supposes that the waters at first 
were universally paramount; and he terrifies himself with the 
idea that the earth must be eventually washed away by the force 
of rain, rivers, and mountain torrents, until it is confounded with 
the ocean, or, in other words, absolutely dissolves into itself. — 
Sublime idea! far surpassing that of the tender-hearted damsel 
of antiquity, who wept herself into a fountain ; or the good dame 

* Johannes Megapolensis, Jun. Account of Maquaas or Mohawk Indians. 


of Narbonne in France, who, for a volubility of tongue unusual 
in her sex, was doomed to peel five hundred thousand and thirty- 
nine ropes of onions, and actually run out at her eyes before half 
the hideous task was accomplished. 

Whiston, the same ingenious philosopher who rivaled Ditton 
in his researches after the longitude (for which the mischief- 
loving Swift discharged on their heads a most savory stanza), 
has distinguished himself by a very admirable theory respecting 
the earth. He conjectures that it was originally a chaotic comet, 
which being selected for the abode of man, was removed from 
its eccentric orbit, and whirled round the sun in its present 
regular motion ; by which change of direction, order succeeded 
to confusion in the arrangement of its component parts. The 
philosopher adds, that the deluge was produced by an uncourteous 
salute from the watery tail of another comet ; doubtless through 
sheer envy of its improved condition : thus furnishing a melan- 
choly proof that jealousy may prevail, even among the heavenly 
bodies, and discord interrupt that celestial harmony of the 
spheres, so melodiously sung by the poets. 

But I pass over a variety of excellent theories, among which 
are those of Burnet, and Woodward, and Whitehurst ; regretting 
extremely that my time will not suffer me to give them the notice 
they deserve — and shall conclude with that of the renowned Dr. 
Darwin. This learned Theban, who is as much distinguished 
for rhyme as reason, and for good-natured credulity as serious 
research, and who has recommended himself wonderfully to the 
good graces of the ladies, by letting them into all the gallantries, 
amours, debaucheries, and other topics of scandal of the court 
of Flora, has fallen upon a theory worthy of his combustible 
imagination. According to his opinion, the huge mass of chaos 


took a sudden occasion to explode, like a barrel of gunpowder, 
and in that act exploded the sun — which in its flight, by a similar 
convulsion, exploded the earth, which in like guise exploded 
the moon — and thus by a concatenation of explosions, the whole 
solar system was produced, and set most systematically in 
motion !* 

By the great variety of theories here alluded to, every one 
of which, if thoroughly examined, will be found surprisingly 
consistent in all its parts, my unlearned readers will perhaps 
be led to conclude, that the creation of a world is not so difficult 
a task as they at first imagined. I have shown at least a score 
of ingenious methods in which a world could be constructed; 
and I have no doubt, that had any of the philosophers above 
quoted the use of a good manageable comet, and the philosophical 
warehouse chaos at his command, he would engage to manufac- 
ture a planet as good, or, if you would take his word for it, 
better than this we inhabit. 

And here I cannot help noticing the kindness of Providence, 
in creating comets for the great relief of bewildered philosophers. 
By their assistance more sudden evolutions and transitions are 
effected in the system of nature than are wrought in a panto- 
mimic exhibition, by the wonder-working sword of Harlequin. 
Should one of our modern sages, in his theoretical flights among 
the stars, ever find himself lost in the clouds, and in danger 
of tumbling into the abyss of nonsense and absurdity, he has 
but to seize a comet by the beard, mount astride of its tail, and 
away he gallops in triumph, like an enchanter on his hyppogriff, 
or a Connecticut witch on her broomstick, " to sweep the cobwebs 
out of the sky." 

* Drw. Bot. Garden. Part I. Cant. i. 1. 105. 


It is an old and vulgar saying about a " beggar on horse- 
back," which I would not for the world have applied to these 
reverend philosophers : but I must confess, that some of them, 
when they are mounted on one of those fiery steeds, are as wild 
in their curvetings as was Phaeton of yore, when he aspired 
to manage the chariot of Phoebus. One drives his comet at 
full speed against the sun, and knocks the world out of him 
with the mighty concussion; another, more moderate, makes 
his comet a kind of beast of burden, carrying the sun a regular 
supply of food and fagots — a third, of more combustible dispo- 
sition, threatens to throw his comet, like a bombshell, into the 
world, and blow it up like a powder magazine ; while a fourth, 
with no great delicacy to this planet, and its inhabitants, insinuates 
that some day or other, his comet — my modest pen blushes while 
I write it — shall absolutely turn tail upon our world, and deluge 
it with water ! — Surely, as I have already observed, comets were 
bountifully provided by Providence for the benefit of philoso- 
phers, to assist them in manufacturing theories. 

And now, having adduced several of the most prominent 
theories that occur to my recollection, I leave my judicious 
readers at full liberty to choose among them. They are all 
serious speculations of learned men — all differ essentially from 
each other — and all have the same title to belief. It has ever 
been the task of one race of philosophers to demolish the works 
of their predecessors, and elevate more splendid fantasies in their 
stead, which in their turn are demolished and replaced by the 
air castles of a succeeding generation. Thus it would seem that 
knowledge and genius, of which we make such great parade, 
consist but in detecting the errors and absurdities of those who 
have gone before, and devising new errors and absurdities, to 



be detected by those who are to come after us. Theories are 
the mighty soap bubbles with which the grown up children of 
science amuse themselves — while the honest vulgar stand gazing 
in stupid admiration, and dignify these learned vagaries with the 
name of wisdom ! — Surely Socrates was right in his opinion, that 
philosophers are but a soberer sort of madmen, busyhig them- 
selves in things totally incomprehensible, or which, if they could 
be comprehended, would be found not worthy the trouble of 

For my own part, until the learned have come to an agree- 
ment among themselves, I shall content myself with the account 
handed down to us by Moses; in which I do but follow the 
example of our ingenious neighbors of Connecticut ; who at their 
first settlement proclaimed, that the colony should be governed 
by the laws of God — until they had time to make better. 

One thing, however, appears certain — from the unanimous 
authority of the before-quoted philosophers, supported by the 
evidence of our own senses, (which, though very apt to deceive 
us, may be cautiously admitted as additional testimony,) it 
appears, I say, and I make the assertion deliberately, without 
fear of contradiction, that this globe really was created, and that 
it is composed of land and water. It farther appears that it is 
curiously divided and parceled out into continents and islands, 
among which I boldly declare the renowned Island of New- 
York will be found by any one who seeks for it in its proper 



Noah, who is the first sea-faring man we read of, begat three 
sons, Shem, Ham, and Japhet. Authors, it is true, are not 
wanting, who affirm that the patriarch had a number of other 
children. Thus Berosus makes him father of the gigantic 
Titans, Methodius gives him a son called Jonithus, or Jonicus, 
and others have mentioned a son, named Thuiscon, from whom 
descended the Teutons or Teutonic, or in other words, the Dutch 

I regret exceedingly that the nature of my plan will not 
permit me to gratify the laudable curiosity of my readers, by 
investigating minutely the history of the great Noah. Indeed, 
such an undertaking would be attended with more trouble than 
many people would imagine ; for the good old patriarch seems 
to have been a great traveler in his day, and to have passed 
under a different name in every country that he visited. The 
Chaldeans, for instance, give us his story, merely altering his 


name into Xisuthrus — a trivial alteration, which, to an historian 
skilled in etymologies, will appear wholly unimportant. It 
appears, likewise, that he had exchanged his tarpaulin and 
quadrant among the Chaldeans, for the gorgeous insignia of 
royalty, and appears as a monarch in their annals. The Egyp- 
tians celebrate him under the name of Osiris ; the Indians as 
Menu ; the Greek and Roman writers confound him with Ogyges, 
and the Theban with Deucalion and Saturn. But the Chinese, 
who deservedly rank among the most extensive and authentic 
historians, inasmuch as they have known the world much longer 
than any one else, declare that Noah was no other than Fohi ; 
and what gives this assertion some air of credibility is, that it 
is a fact, admitted by the most enlightened literati, that Noah 
traveled into China, at the time of the building of the tower 
of Babel (probably to improve himself in the study of lan- 
guages), and the learned Dr. Shackford gives us the additional 
information, that the ark rested on a mountain on the frontiers 
of China. 

From this mass of rational conjectures and sage hypotheses, 
many satisfactory deductions might be drawn ; but I shall content 
myself with the simple fact stated in the Bible, viz. that Noah 
begat three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japhet. It is astonishing 
on what remote and obscure contingencies the great affairs of 
this world depend, and how events the most distant, and to the 
common observer unconnected, are inevitably consequent the 
one to the other. It remains to the philosopher to discover 
these mysterious affinities, and it is the proudest triumph of 
his skill, to detect and drag forth some latent chain of causation, 
which at first sight appears a paradox to the inexperienced 
observer. Thus many of my readers will doubtless wonder 


what connection the family of Noah can possibly have with this 
history — and many will stare when informed, that the whole 
history of this quarter of the world has taken its character and 
course from the simple circumstance of the patriarch's having 
but three sons — but to explain : 

Noah, we are told by sundry very credible historians, 
becoming sole surviving heir and proprietor of the earth, in fee 
simple, after the deluge, like a good father, portioned out his 
estate among his children. To Shem he gave Asia; to Ham, 
Africa; and to Japhet, Europe. Now it is a thousand times 
to be lamented that he had but three sons, for had there been 
a fourth, he would doubtless have inherited America; which, 
of course, would have been dragged forth from its obscurity on 
the occasion ; and thus many a hard-working historian and 
philosopher would have been spared a prodigious mass of weary 
conjecture respecting the first discovery and population of this 
country. Noah, however, having provided for his three sons, 
looked in all probability upon our country as mere wild unsettled 
land, and said nothing about it ; and to this unpardonable taci- 
turnity of the patriarch may we ascribe the misfortune, that 
America did not come into the world as early as the other 
quarters of the globe. 

It is true, some writers have vindicated him from this mis- 
conduct towards posterity, and asserted that he really did discover 
America. Thus it was the opinion of Mark Lescarbot, a French 
writer, possessed of that ponderosity of thought, and profound- 
ness of reflection, so peculiar to his nation, that the immediate 
descendants of Noah peopled this quarter of the globe, and that 
the old patriarch himself, who still retained a passion for the 
sea-faring life, superintended the transmigration. The pious 


and enlightened father, Charlevoix, a French Jesuit, remarkable 
for his aversion to the marvelous, common to all great travelers, 
is conclusively of the same opinion ; nay, he goes still farther, 
and decides upon the manner in which the discovery was effected, 
which was by sea, and under the immediate direction of the 
great Noah. "I have already observed," exclaims the good 
father, in a tone of becoming indignation, " that it is an arbitrary 
supposition that the grandchildren of Noah were not able to 
penetrate into the new world, or that they never thought of it. 
In effect, I can see no reason that can justify such a notion. 
Who can seriously believe, that Noah and his immediate descend- 
ants knew less than we do, and that the builder and pilot of the 
greatest ship that ever was, a ship which was formed to traverse 
an unbounded ocean, and had so many shoals and quicksands 
to guard against, should be ignorant of, or should not have 
communicated to his descendants the art of sailing on the ocean ?" 
Therefore, they did sail on the ocean — therefore, they sailed to 
America — therefore, America was discovered by Noah ! 

Now all this exquisite chain of reasoning, which is so 
strikingly characteristic of the good father, being addressed to 
the faith, rather than the understanding, is flatly opposed by 
Hans de Laert, who declares it a real and most ridiculous 
paradox, to suppose that Noah ever entertained the thought of 
discovering America; and as Hans is a Dutch writer, I am 
inclined to believe he must have been much better acquainted 
with the worthy crew of the ark than his competitors, and of 
course possessed of more accurate sources of information. It 
is astonishing how intimate historians do daily become with the 
patriarchs and other great men of antiquity. As intimacy 
improves with time, and as the learned are particularly inquisi- 


tive and familiar in their acquaintance with the ancients, I should 
not be surprised if some future writers should gravely give us 
a picture of men and manners as they existed before the flood, 
far more copious and accurate than the Bible ; and that, in the 
course of another century, the log-book of the good Noah should 
be as current among historians, as the voyages of Captain Cook, 
or the renowned history of Eobinson Crusoe. 

I shall not occupy my time by discussing the huge mass of 
additional suppositions, conjectures, and probabilities respecting 
the first discovery of this country, with which unhappy historians 
overload themselves, in their endeavors to satisfy the doubts of 
an incredulous world. It is painful to see these laborious wights 
panting, and toiling, and sweating under an enormous burden, 
at the very outset of their works, which, on being opened, turns 
out to be nothing but a mighty bundle of straw. As, however, 
by unwearied assiduity, they seem to have established the fact, 
to the satisfaction of all the world, that this country has heen 
discovered, I shall avail myself of their useful labors to be 
extremely brief upon this point. 

I shall not, therefore, stop to inquire, whether America was 
first discovered by a wandering vessel of that celebrated Phoeni- 
cian fleet, which, according to Herodotus, circumnavigated Africa ; 
or by that Carthaginian expedition, which Pliny, the naturalist, 
informs us, discovered the Canary Islands; or whether it was 
settled by a temporary colony from Tyre, as hinted by Aristotle 
and Seneca. I shall neither inquire whether it was first dis- 
covered by the Chinese, as Vossius with great shrewdness 
advances; nor by the Norwegians in 1002, under Biorn; nor 
by Behem, the German navigator, as Mr. Otto has endeavored 
to prove to the savans of the learned city of Philadelphia. 



Nor shall I investigate the more modern claims of the "Welsh, 
founded on the voyage of Prince Madoc in the eleventh century, 
who having never returned, it has since been wisely concluded 
that he must have gone to America, and that for a plain reason 
— if he did not go there, where else could he have gone? — a 
question which most socratically shuts out all farther dispute. 

Laying aside, therefore, all the conjectures above mentioned, 
with a multitude of others, equally satisfactory, I shall take for 
granted the vulgar opinion, that America was discovered on the 
12th of October, 1492, by Christoval Colon, a Genoese, who 
has been clumsily nicknamed Columbus, but for what reason I 
cannot discern. Of the voyages and adventures of this Colon, 
I shall say nothing, seeing that they are already sufficiently 
known. Nor shall I undertake to prove that this country should 
have been called Colonia, after his name, that being notoriously 

Having thus happily got my readers on this side of the 
Atlantic, I picture them to myself, all impatience to enter upon 
the enjoyment of the land of promise, and in full expectation 
that I will immediately deliver it into their possession. But 
if I do, may I ever forfeit the reputation of a regular bred 
historian ! No — no — most curious and thrice learned readers, 
(for thrice learned ye are if ye have read all that has gone 
before, and nine times learned shall ye be, if ye read that which 
comes after,) we have yet a world of work before us. Think 
you the first discoverers of this fair quarter of the globe had 
nothing to do but go on shore and find a country ready laid out 
and cultivated like a garden, wherein they might revel at their 
ease ? No such thing — they had forests to cut down, underwood 
to grub up, marshes to drain, and savages to exterminate. 


In like manner, I have sundry doubts to clear away, questions 
Lo resolve, and paradoxes to explain, before I permit you to 
range at random ; but these difficulties once overcome, we shall 
be enabled to jog on right merrily through the rest of our history. 
Thus my work shall, in a manner, echo the nature of the subject, 
in the same manner as the sound of poetry has been found by 
certain shrewd critics to echo the sense — this being an improve- 
ment in history, which I claim the merit of having invented. 





The next inquiry at which we arrive in the regular course of 
our history is to ascertain, if possible, how this country was 
originally peopled — a point fruitful of incredible embarrassments ; 
for unless we prove that the Aborigines did absolutely come from 
somewhere, it will be immediately asserted, in this age of skepti- 
cism, that they did not come at all ; and if they did not come 
at all, then was this country never populated — a conclusion 
perfectly agreeable to the rules of logic, but wholly irreconcilable 
to every feeling of humanity, inasmuch as it must syllogistically 
prove fatal to the innumerable Aborigines of this populous 

To avert so dire a sophism, and to rescue from logical annihi- 
lation so many millions of fellow creatures, how many wings of 
geese have been plundered! what oceans of ink have been 
benevolently drained ! and how many capacious heads of learned 
historians have been addled, and for ever confounded ! I pause 
with reverential awe, when I contemplate the ponderous tomes. 


in different languages, with which they have endeavored to solve 
this question, so important to the happiness of society, but so 
involved in clouds of impenetrable obscurity. Historian after 
historian has engaged in the endless circle of hypothetical argu- 
ment, and after leading us a weary chase through octavos, quartos, 
and folios, has let us out at the end of his work just as wise 
as we were at the beginning. It was doubtless some philosophi- 
cal wild-goose chase of the kind that made the old poet Macro- 
bius rail in such a passion at curiosity, which he anathematizes 
most heartily, as "an irksome agonizing care, a superstitious 
industry about unprofitable things, an itching humor to see what 
is not to be seen, and to be doing what signifies nothing when 
it is done." But to proceed : 

Of the claims of the children of Noah to the original popula- 
tion of this country I shall say nothing, as they have already 
been touched upon in my last chapter. The claimants next in 
celebrity, are the descendants of Abraham. Thus Christoval 
Colon (vulgarly called Columbus) when he first discovered the 
gold mines of Hispaniola, immediately concluded, with a shrewd- 
ness that would have done honor to a philosopher, that he had 
found the ancient Ophir, from whence Solomon procured the 
gold for embellishing the temple at Jerusalem ; nay, Colon even 
imagined that he saw the remains of furnaces of veritable 
Hebraic construction, employed in refining the precious ore. 

So golden a conjecture, tinctured with such fascinating extra- 
vagance, was too tempting not to be immediately snapped at by 
the gudgeons of learning ; and accordingly, there were divers 
profound writers, ready to swear to its correctness, and to bring 
in their usual load of authorities, and wise surmises, wherewithal 
to prop it up. Vetablus and Robertus Stephens declared nothing 


could be more clear — Arius Montanus, without the least hesita- 
tion, asserts that Mexico was the true Ophir, and the Jews the 
early settlers of the country. While Possevin, Becan, and 
several other sagacious writers, lug in a supposed prophecy of 
the fourth book of Esdras, which being inserted in the mighty 
hypothesis, like the keystone of an arch, gives it, in their 
opinion, perpetual durability. 

Scarce, however, have they completed their goodly super- 
structure, than in trudges a phalanx of opposite authors, with 
Hans de Laet, the great Dutchman, at their head, and at one 
blow tumbles the whole fabric about their ears. Hans, in fact, 
contradicts outright all the Israelitish claims to the first settlement 
of this country, attributing all those equivocal symptoms, and 
traces of Christianity and Judaism, which have been said to be 
found in divers provinces of the new world, to the Devil, who 
has always affected to counterfeit the worship of the true Deity. 
" A remark," says the knowing old Padre d'Acosta, " made by 
all good authors who have spoken of the religion of nations 
newly discovered, and founded besides on the authority of the 
fathers of the church." 

Some writers again, among whom it is with much regret I 
am compelled to mention Lopez de Gomara, and Juan de Leri, 
insinuate that the Canaanites, being driven from the land of 
promise by the Jews, were seized with such a panic that they 
fled without looking behind them, until stopping to take breath, 
they found themselves safe in America. As they brought neither 
their national language, manners, nor features with them, it is 
supposed they left them behind in the hurry of their flight — 
I cannot give my faith to tins opinion. 

I pass over the supposition of the learned Grotius, who being 


both an ambassador and a Dutchman to boot, is entitled to great 
respect ; that North America was peopled by a strolling company 
of Norwegians, and that Peru was founded by a colony from 
China — Manco or Mango Capac, the first Incas, being himself 
a Chinese. Nor shall I more than barely mention, that father 
Kircher ascribes the settlement of America to the Egyptians, 
Rudbeck to the Scandinavians, Charron to the Gauls, Juffredus 
Petri to a skating party from Friesland, Milius to the Celtse, 
Marinocus the Sicilian to the Romans, Le Compte to the Phoe- 
nicians, Postel to the Moors, Martyn d'Angleria to the Abys- 
sinians, together with the sage surmise of De Laet, that England, 
Ireland, and the Orcades may contend for that honor. 

Nor will I bestow any more attention or credit to the idea 
that America is the fairy region of Zipangri, described by that 
dreaming traveler, Marco Polo, the Venetian ; or that it com- 
prises the visionary island of Atlantis, described by Plato. 
Neither will I stop to investigate the heathenish assertion of 
Paracelsus, that each hemisphere of the globe was originally fur- 
nished with an Adam and Eve. Or the more flattering opinion 
of Dr. Romayne, supported by many nameless authorities, that 
Adam was of the Indian race — or the startling conjecture of 
Buffon, Helvetius, and Darwin, so highly honorable to mankind, 
that the whole human species is accidentally descended from a 
remarkable family of monkeys ! 

This last conjecture, I must own, came upon me very sud- 
denly and very ungraciously. I have often beheld the clown in 
a pantomime, while gazing in stupid wonder at the extravagant 
gambols of a harlequin, all at once electrified by a sudden stroke 
of the wooden sword across his shoulders. Little did I think at 
such times, that it would ever fall to my lot to be treated with 


equal discourtesy, and that while I was quietly beholding these 
grave philosophers, emulating the eccentric transformations of 
the hero of pantomime, they would on a sudden turn upon me 
and my readers, and with one hypothetical flourish metamorphose 
us into beasts ! I determined from that moment not to burn my 
fingers with any more of their theories, but content myself with 
detailing the different methods by which they transported the de- 
scendants of these ancient and respectable monkeys to this great 
field of theoretical warfare. 

This was done either by migrations by land or transmigra- 
tions by water. Thus Padre Joseph D'Acosta enumerates three 
passages by land — first by the north of Europe, secondly by the 
north of Asia, and thirdly by regions southward of the Straits of 
Magellan. The learned Grotius marches his Norwegians by a 
pleasant route across frozen rivers and arms of the sea, through 
Iceland, Greenland, Estotiland and Naremberga: and various 
writers, among whom are Angleria, De Hornn, and Buffon, 
anxious for the accommodation of these travelers, have fastened 
the two continents together by a strong chain of deductions — by 
which means they could pass over dry-shod. But should even 
this fail, Pinkerton, that industrious old gentleman, who compiles 
books, and manufactures Geographies, has constructed a natural 
bridge of ice, from continent to continent, at the distance of four 
or five miles from Behring's Straits — for which he is entitled to 
the grateful thanks of all the wandering aborigines who ever did 
or ever will pass over it. 

It is an evil much to be lamented, that none of the worthy 
writers above quoted could ever commence his work, without im- 
mediately declaring hostilities against every writer who had 
treated of the same subject. In this particular, authors may be 


compared to a certain sagacious bird, which in building its nest, 
is sure to pull to pieces the nests of all the birds in its neighbor- 
hood. This unhappy propensity tends grievously to impede the 
progress of sound knowledge. Theories are at best but brittle 
productions, and when once committed to the stream, they should 
take care that like the notable pots which were fellow-voyagers, 
they do not crack each other. 

My chief surprise is, that among the many writers I have 
noticed, no one has attempted to prove that this country was peo- 
pled from the moon — or that the first inhabitants floated hither 
on islands of ice, as white bears cruise about the northern oceans 
— or that they were conveyed hither by balloons, as modern aero- 
nauts pass from Dover to Calais — or by witchcraft, as Simon 
Magus posted among the stars — or after the manner of the re- 
nowned Scythian Abaris, who, like the New England witches or 
full-blooded broomsticks, made most unheard-of journeys on the 
back of a golden arrow, given him by the Hyperborean Apollo. 

But there is still one mode left by which this country could 
have been peopled, which I have reserved for the last, because I 
consider it worth all the rest : it is — by accident / Speaking of 
the islands of Solomon, New Guinea, and New Holland, the pro- 
found father Charlevoix observes, " in fine, all these countries are 
peopled, and it is possible some have been so by accident. Now if 
it could have happened in that manner, why might it not have 
been at the same time, and by the same means, with the other parts 
of the globe ?" This ingenious mode of deducing certain conclu- 
sions from possible premises, is an improvement in syllogistic 
skill, and proves the good father superior even to Archimedes, for 
he can turn the world without any thing to rest his lever upon. 
It is only surpassed by the dexterity with which the sturdy old 



Jesuit, in another place, cuts the gordian knot — " Nothing," says 
he, " is more easy. The inhabitants of both hemispheres are cer- 
tainly the descendants of the same father. The common father 
of mankind received an express order from Heaven to people 
the world, and accordingly it has been peopled. To bring this 
about, it was necessary to overcome all difficulties in the way, and 
they have also been overcome /" Pious logician ! How does he 
put all the herd of laborious theorists to the blush, by explaining, 
in five words, what it has cost them volumes to prove they knew 
nothing about ! 

From all the authorities here quoted, and a variety of others 
which I have consulted, but which are omitted through fear of 
fatiguing the unlearned reader, I can only draw the following 
conclusions, which luckily, however, are sufficient for my purpose. 
First, that this part of the world has actually been peopled, 
(Q. E. D.) to support which we have living proofs in the nume- 
rous tribes of Indians that inhabit it. Secondly, that it has been 
peopled in five hundred different ways, as proved by a cloud of 
authors who, from the positiveness of their assertions, seem to 
have been eye-witnesses to the fact. Thirdly, that the people of 
this country had a variety of fathers, which, as it may not be 
thought much to their credit by the common run of readers, the 
less we say on the subject the better. The question, therefore, I 
trust, is for ever at rest. 





The writer of a history may, in some respects, be likened unto 
an adventurous knight, who having undertaken a perilous enter- 
prise, by way of establishing his fame, feels bound, in honor and 
chivalry, to turn back for no difficulty nor hardship, and never to 
shrink or quail, whatever enemy he may encounter. Under this 
impression, I resolutely draw my pen, and fall to, with might and 
main, at those doughty questions and subtle paradoxes, which, 
like fiery dragons and bloody giants, beset the entrance to my 
history, and would fain repulse me from the very threshold. 
And at this moment a gigantic question has started up, which I 
must needs take by the beard and utterly subdue, before I can 
advance another step in my historic undertaking ; but I trust 
this will be the last adversary I shall have to contend with, and 
that in the next book I shall be enabled to conduct my readers in 
triumph into the body of my work. 

The question which has thus suddenly arisen, is, What right 


had the first discoverers of America to land and take possession 
of a country, without first gaining the consent of its inhabitants, 
or yielding them an adequate compensation for their territory ? — 
a question which has withstood many fierce assaults, and has 
given much distress of mind to multitudes of kind-hearted folk. 
And indeed, until it be totally vanquished, and put to rest, the 
worthy people of America can by no means enjoy the soil they 
inhabit, with clear right and title, and quiet, unsullied consciences. 

The first source of right, by which property is acquired in a 
country, is discovery. For as all mankind have an equal right 
to any thing, which has never before been appropriated, so any 
nation, that discovers an uninhabited country, and takes possession 
thereof, is considered as enjoying full property, and absolute, 
unquestionable empire therein.* 

This proposition being admitted, it follows clearly, that the 
Europeans who first visited America, were the real discoverers 
of the same ; nothing being necessary to the establishment of 
this fact, but simply to prove that it was totally uninhabited by 
man. This would at first appear to be a point of some difficulty, 
for it is well known, that this quarter of the world abounded 
with certain animals, that walked erect on two feet, had some- 
thing of the human countenance, uttered certain unintelligible 
sounds, very much like language, in short, had a marvelous 
resemblance to human beings. But the zealous and enlightened 
fathers, who accompanied the discoverers, for the purpose of 
promoting the kingdom of heaven, by establishing fat monasteries 
and bishoprics on earth, soon cleared up this point, greatly to the 
satisfaction of his holiness the pope, and of all Christian voyagers 
and discoverers. 

* Grotius. Puffendorf, b. v. c. 4. Vattel, b. i. c 18, &c. 


They plainly proved, and as there were no Indian writers 
arose on the other side, the fact was considered as fully admitted 
and established, that the two-legged race of animals before 
mentioned were mere cannibals, detestable monsters, and many 
of them giants — which last description of vagrants have, since 
the times of Gog, Magog, and Goliath, been considered as out- 
laws, and have received no quarter in either history, chivalry, or 
song. Indeed, even the philosophic Bacon declared the Ameri- 
cans to be people proscribed by the laws of nature, inasmuch as 
they had a barbarous custom of sacrificing men, and feeding upon 
man's flesh. 

Nor are these all the proofs of their utter barbarism : among 
many other writers of discernment, Ulloa tells us " their imbecility 
is so visible, that one can hardly form an idea of them differ- 
ent from what one has of the brutes. Nothing disturbs the 
tranquillity of their souls, equally insensible to disasters and to 
prosperity. Though half naked, they are as contented as a 
monarch in his most splendid array. Fear makes no impression 
on them, and respect as little." All this is furthermore supported 
by the authority of M. Bouguer. " It is not easy," says he, " to 
describe the degree of their indifference for wealth and all its 
advantages. One does not well know what motives to propose 
to them when one would persuade them to any service. It is 
vain to offer them money ; they answer they are not hungry." 
And Vanegas confirms the whole, assuring us that "ambition 
they have none, and are more desirous of being thought strong 
than valiant. The objects of ambition with us — honor, fame, 
reputation, riches, posts, and distinctions, are unknown among 
them. So that this powerful spring of action, the cause of so 
much seeming good and real evil in the world, has no poAver over 


them. In a word, these unhappy mortals may be compared to 
children, in whom the development of reason is not completed." 

Now all these peculiarities, although in the unenlightened 
states of Greece they would have entitled their possessors to 
immortal honor, as having reduced to practice those rigid and 
abstemious maxims, the mere talking about which acquired 
certain old Greeks the reputation of sages and philosophers ; — 
yet, were they clearly proved in the present instance to betoken 
a most abject and brutified nature, totally beneath the human 
character. But the benevolent fathers, who had undertaken to 
turn these unhappy savages into dumb beasts, by dint of argu- 
ment, advanced still stronger proofs ; for as certain divines of 
the sixteenth century, and among the rest Lullus, affirm — the 
Americans go naked, and have no beards ! — " They have nothing," 
says Lullus, " of the reasonable animal, except the mask." — And 
even that mask was allowed to avail them but little, for it was 
soon found that they were of a hideous copper complexion — and 
being of a copper complexion, it was all the same as if they were 
negroes — and negroes are black, "and black," said the pious 
fathers, devoutly crossing themselves, " is the color of the Devil !" 
Therefore, so far from being able to own property, they had no 
right even to personal freedom — for liberty is too radiant a deity 
to inhabit such gloomy temples. All which circumstances plainly 
convinced the righteous followers of Cortes and Pizarro, that 
these miscreants had no title to the soil that they infested — that 
they were a perverse, illiterate, dumb, beardless, black-seed — 
mere wild beasts of the forests, and like them should either be 
subdued or exterminated. 

From the foregoing arguments, therefore, and a variety of 
others equally conclusive, which I forbear to enumerate, it is 


clearly evident that this fair quarter of the globe when first visited 
by Europeans, was a howling wilderness, inhabited by nothing 
but wild beasts ; and that the transatlantic visitors acquired an 
incontrovertible property therein, by the right of discovery. 

This right being fully established, we now come to the next, 
which is the right acquired by cultivation. " The cultivation of 
the soil," we are told, " is an obligation imposed by nature on 
mankind. The whole world is appointed for the nourishment of 
its inhabitants : but it would be incapable of doing it, was it 
uncultivated. Every nation is then obliged by the law of nature 
to cultivate the ground that has fallen to its share. Those people, 
like the ancient Germans and modern Tartars, who, having 
fertile countries, disdain to cultivate the earth, and choose to live 
by rapine, are wanting to themselves, and deserve to be extermi- 
nated as savage and pernicious beasts."* 

Now it is notorious, that the savages knew nothing of agricul- 
ture, when first discovered by the Europeans, but lived a most 
vagabond, disorderly, unrighteous life, — rambling from place to 
place, and prodigally rioting upon the spontaneous luxuries of 
nature, without tasking her generosity to yield them any thing 
more ; whereas it has been most unquestionably shown, that 
Heaven intended the earth should be ploughed and sown, and 
manured, and laid out into cities, and towns, and farms, and 
country seats, and pleasure grounds, and public gardens, all 
which the Indians knew nothing about — therefore, they did 
not improve the talents Providence had bestowed on them — 
therefore, they were careless stewards — therefore, they had no 
right to the soil — therefore, they deserved to be exterminated. 

It is true, the savages might plead that they drew all the 

* Vattel, b. i. ch. 17. 


benefits from the land which their simple wants required-— they 
found plenty of game to hunt, which, together with the roots and 
uncultivated fruits of the earth, furnished a sufficient variety for 
their frugal repasts ; — and that as Heaven merely designed the 
earth to form the abode, and satisfy the wants of man ; so long 
as those purposes were answered, the will of Heaven was accom- 
plished. — But this only proves how undeserving they were of the 
blessings around them — they were so much the more savages, 
for not having more wants ; for knowledge is hi some degree an 
increase of desires, and it is this superiority both in the number 
and magnitude of his desires, that distinguishes the man from the 
beast. Therefore the Indians, in not having more wants, were 
very unreasonable animals ; and it was but just that they should 
make way for the Europeans, who had a thousand wants to their 
one, and, therefore, would turn the earth to more account, and by 
cultivating it, more truly fulfill the will of Heaven. Besides — 
G-rotius and Lauterbach, and PufPendorff, and Titius, and many 
wise men beside, who have considered the matter properly, have 
determined, that the property of a country cannot be acquired 
by hunting, cutting wood, or drawing water in it — nothing but 
precise demarcation of limits, and the intention of cultivation, can 
establish the possession. Now as the savages (probably from 
never having read the authors above quoted) had never complied 
with any of these necessary forms, it plainly follows that they had 
no right to the soil, but that it was completely at the disposal of 
the first comers, who had more knowledge, more wants, and more 
elegant, that is to say, artificial desires than themselves. 

In entering upon a newly discovered, uncultivated country, 
therefore, the new comers were but taking possession of what, 
according to the aforesaid doctrine, was their own property — 


therefore, in opposing them, the savages were invading their just 
rights, infringing the immutable laws of nature, and counteracting 
the will of Heaven — therefore, they were guilty of impiety, 
burglary, and trespass on the case, — therefore, they were 
hardened offenders against God and man — therefore, they ought 
to be exterminated. 

But a more irresistible right than either that I have men- 
tioned, and one which will be the most readily admitted by my 
reader, provided he be blessed with bowels of charity and 
philanthropy, is the right acquired by civilization. All the 
world knows the lamentable state in which these poor savages 
were found. Not only deficient in the comforts of life, but what 
is still worse, most piteously and unfortunately blind to the 
miseries of their situation. But no sooner did the benevolent 
inhabitants of Europe behold their sad condition than they 
immediately went to work to ameliorate and improve it. They 
introduced among them rum, gin, brandy, and the other comforts 
of life — and it is astonishing to read how soon the poor savages 
learned to estimate those blessings; they likewise made known to 
them a thousand remedies, by which the most inveterate diseases 
are alleviated and healed ; and that they might comprehend the 
benefits and enjoy the comforts of these medicines, they pre- 
viously introduced among them the diseases which they were 
calculated to cure. By these and a variety of other methods 
was the condition of these poor savages wonderfully improved ; 
they acquired a thousand wants, of which they had before been 
ignorant ; and as he has most sources of happiness who has most 
wants to be gratified, they were doubtlessly rendered a much 
happier race of beings. 

But the most important branch of civilization, and which has 



most strenuously been extolled by the zealous and pious fathers 
of the Eomish Church, is the introduction of the Christian faith. 
It was truly a sight that might well inspire horror, to behold these 
savages tumbling among the dark mountains of paganism, and 
guilty of the most horrible ignorance of religion. It is true, they 
neither stole nor defrauded ; they were sober, frugal, continent, 
and faithful to their word ; but though they acted right habitually, 
it was all in vain, unless they acted so from precept. The new 
comers, therefore, used every method to induce them to embrace 
and practice the true religion — except indeed that of setting them 
the example. 

But notwithstanding all these complicated labors for their 
good, such was the unparalleled obstinacy of these stubborn 
wretches, that they ungratefully refused to acknowledge the 
strangers as their benefactors, and persisted in disbelieving the 
doctrines they endeavored to inculcate ; most insolently alleging, 
that from their conduct, the advocates of Christianity did not 
seem to believe in it themselves. Was not this too much for 
human patience ? — would not one suppose that the benign visit- 
ants from Europe, provoked at their incredulity, and discouraged 
by their stiff-necked obstinacy, would for ever have abandoned 
their shores, and consigned them to their original ignorance and 
misery ? — But no — so zealous were they to effect the temporal 
comfort and eternal salvation of these pagan infidels, that they 
even proceeded from the milder means of persuasion, to the more 
painful and troublesome one of persecution — let loose among them 
whole troops of fiery monks and furious bloodhounds — purified 
them by fire and sword, by stake and fagot ; in consequence of 
which indefatigable measures the cause of Christian love and 
charity was so rapidly advanced, that in a few years not one -fifth 


of the number of unbelievers existed in South America that were 
found there at the time of its discovery. 

What stronger right need the European settlers advance to 
the country than this ? Have not whole nations of uninformed 
savages been made acquainted with a thousand imperious wants 
and indispensable comforts, of which they were before wholly 
ignorant ? Have they not been literally hunted and smoked out 
of the dens and lurking places of ignorance and infidelity, and 
absolutely scourged into the right path ? Have not the temporal 
things, the vain baubles and filthy lucre of this world, which were 
too apt to engage their worldly and selfish thoughts, been benevo- 
lently taken from them ; and have they not, instead thereof, been 
taught to set their affections on things above ? — And finally, to use 
the words of a reverend Spanish father, in a letter to his supe- 
rior in Spain — " Can any one have the presumption to say that 
these savage Pagans have yielded any thing more than an incon- 
siderable recompense to their benefactors; in surrendering to 
them a little pitiful tract of this dirty sublunary planet in ex- 
change for a glorious inheritance in the kingdom of heaven ?" 

Here then are three complete and undeniable sources of right 
established, any one of which was more than ample to establish a 
property in the newly discovered regions of America. Now, so 
it has happened in certain parts of this delightful quarter of the 
globe, that the right of discovery has been so strenuously asserted 
— the influence of cultivation so industriously extended, and the 
progress of salvation and civilization so zealously prosecuted, that, 
what with their attendant wars, persecutions, oppressions, diseases 
and other partial evils that often hang on the skirts of great bene- 
fits — the savage aborigines have, somehow or another, been utterly 
annihilated — and this all at once brings me to a fourth right, 


which is worth all the others put together. — For the orignal claim- 
ants to the soil being all dead and buried, and no one remaining 
to inherit or dispute the soil, the Spaniards, as the next imme- 
diate occupants, entered upon the possession as clearly as the 
hangman succeeds to the clothes of the malefactor — and as they 
have Blackstone,* and all the learned expounders of the law on 
their side, they may set all actions of ejectment at defiance — and 
this last right may be entitled the right by extermination, or 
in other words, the right by gunpowder. 

But lest any scruples of conscience should remain on this 
head, and to settle the question of right for ever, his holiness Pope 
Alexander VI. issued a bull, by which he generously granted the 
newly-discovered quarter of the globe to the Spaniards and Portu- 
guese ; who, thus having law and gospel on their side, and being 
inflamed with great spiritual zeal, showed the Pagan savages 
neither favor nor affection, but prosecuted the work of discovery, 
colonization, civilization, and extermination, with ten times more 
fury than ever. 

Thus were the European worthies who first discovered Ame- 
rica clearly entitled to the soil ; and not only entitled to the soil, 
but likewise to the eternal thanks of these infidel savages, for 
having come so far, endured so many perils by sea and land, and 
taken such unwearied pains, for no other purpose but to improve 
their forlorn, uncivilized, and heathenish condition — for havin» 
made them acquainted with the comforts of life ; for having in- 
troduced among them the light of religion, and finally — for hav- 
ing hurried them out of the world, to enjoy its reward ! 

But as argument is never so well understood by us selfish mor- 

* Bl. Com. b. ii. c. 1. 


tals as when it comes home to ourselves, and as I am particularly 
anxious that this question should be put to rest for ever, I will 
suppose a parallel case, by way of arousing the candid attention 
of my readers. 

Let us suppose, then, that the inhabitants of the moon, by 
astonishing advancement in science, and by profound insight into 
that lunar philosophy, the mere flickerings of which have of late 
years dazzled the feeble optics, and addled the shallow brains of 
the good people of our globe — let us suppose, I say, that the in- 
habitants of the moon, by these means, had arrived at such a 
command of their energies, such an enviable state of perfectibility, 
as to control the elements, and navigate the boundless regions of 
space. Let us suppose a roving crew of these soaring philoso- 
phers, in the course of an aerial voyage of discovery among the 
stars, should chance to alight upon this outlandish planet. 

And here I beg my readers will not have the uncharitableness 
to smile, as is too frequently the fault of volatile readers, when 
perusing the grave speculations of philosophers. I am far from 
indulging in any sportive vein at present ; nor is the supposition 
I have been making so wild as many may deem it. It has long 
been a very serious and anxious question with me, and many a 
time and oft, in the course of my overwhelming cares and contri- 
vances for the welfare and protection of this my native planet, 
have I lain awake whole nights debating in my mind, whether it 
were most probable we should first discover and civilize the 
moon, or the moon discover and civilize our globe. Neither would 
the prodigy of sailing in the air and cruising among the stars be 
a whit more astonishing and incomprehensible to us, than was the 
European mystery of navigating floating castles, through the 
world of waters, to the simple natives. We have already dis- 


covered the art of coasting along the aerial shores of our planet, 
by means of balloons, as the savages had of venturing along their 
sea-coasts in canoes ; and the disparity between the former, and 
the aerial vehicles of the philosophers from the moon, might not 
be greater than that between the bark canoes of the savages, 
and the mighty ships of their discoverers. I might here pursue 
an endless chain of similar speculations ; but as they would be un- 
important to my subject, I abandon them to my reader, particu- 
larly if he be a philosopher, as matters well worthy of his atten- 
tive consideration. 

To return then to my supposition — let us suppose that the 
aerial visitants I have mentioned, possessed of vastly superior 
knowledge to ourselves; that is to say, possessed of superior 
knowledge in the art of extermination — riding on hyppogrrffs — 
defended with impenetrable armor — armed with concentrated 
sunbeams, and provided with vast engines, to hurl enormous 
moon-stones : in short, let us suppose them, if our vanity will 
permit the supposition, as superior to us in knowledge, and 
consequently in power, as the Europeans were to the Indians, 
when they first discovered them. All this is very possible ; it is 
only our self-sufficiency that makes us think otherwise ; and I 
warrant the poor savages, before they had any knowledge of the 
white men, armed in all the terrors of glittering steel and 
tremendous gunpowder, were as perfectly convinced that they 
themselves were the wisest, the most virtuous, powerful, and 
perfect of created beings, as are, at this present moment, the 
lordly inhabitants of old England, the volatile populace of 
France, or even the self-satisfied citizens of this most enlightened 

Let us suppose, moreover, that the aerial voyagers, finding 


this planet to be nothing but a howling wilderness, inhabited by 
us, poor savages and wild beasts, shall take formal possession of 
it, in the name of his most gracious and philosophic excellency, 
the man in the moon. Finding, however, that their numbers are 
incompetent to hold it in complete subjection, on account of the 
ferocious barbarity of its inhabitants, they shall take our worthy 
President, the King of England, the Emperor of Hayti, the 
mighty Bonaparte, and the great King of Bantam, and returning 
to their native planet, shall carry them to court, as were the 
Indian chiefs led about as spectacles in the courts of Europe. 

Then making such obeisance as the etiquette of the court 
requires, they shall address the puissant man in the moon, in, as 
near as I can conjecture, the following terms : 

" Most serene and mighty Potentate, whose dominions extend 
as far as eye can reach, who rideth on the Great Bear, useth 
the sun as a looking-glass, and maintaineth unrivaled control 
over tides, madmen, and sea-crabs. We thy liege subjects have 
just returned from a voyage of discovery, in the course of which 
we have landed and taken possession of that obscure little dirty 
planet, which thou beholdest rolling at a distance. The five 
uncouth monsters, which we have brought into this august pre- 
sence, were once very important chiefs among their fellow 
savages, who are a race of beings totally destitute of the common 
attributes of humanity ; and differing in every thing from the 
inhabitants of the moon, inasmuch as they carry their heads 
upon their shoulders, instead of under their arms — have two 
eyes instead of one — are utterly destitute of tails, and of a 
variety of unseemly complexions, particularly of horrible white- 
ness — instead of pea-green. 

"We have moreover found these miserable savages sunk 


into a state of the utmost ignorance and depravity, every man 
shamelessly living with his own wife, and rearing his own 
children, instead of indulging in that community of wives 
enjoined by the law of nature, as expounded by the philosophers 
of the moon. In a word, they have scarcely a gleam of true 
philosophy among them, but are, in fact, utter heretics, igno- 
ramuses, and barbarians. Taking compassion, therefore, on the 
sad condition of these sublunary wretches, we have endeavored, 
while we remained on their planet, to introduce among them the 
light of reason — and the comforts of the moon. We have 
treated them to mouthfuls of moonshine, and draughts of nitrous 
oxyd, which they swallowed with incredible voracity, particularly 
the females ; and we have likewise endeavored to instill into 
them the precepts of lunar philosophy. We have insisted upon 
their renouncing the contemptible shackles of religion and 
common sense, and adoring the profound, omnipotent, and all 
perfect energy, and the ecstatic, immutable, immovable perfection. 
But such was the unparalleled obstinacy of these wretched 
savages, that they persisted in cleaving to their wives, and 
adhering to their religion, and absolutely set at naught the 
sublime doctrines of the moon — nay, among other abominable 
heresies, they even went so far as blasphemously to declare, that 
this ineffable planet was made of nothing more nor less than 
green cheese !" 

At these words, the great man in the moon (being a very 
profound philosopher) shall fall into a terrible passion, and pos- 
sessing equal authority over things that do not belong to him, 
as did whilom his holiness the Pope, shall forthwith issue a 
formidable bull, specifying, " That, whereas a certain crew of 
Lunatics have lately discovered, and taken possession of a newly 


discovered planet called the earth — and that whereas it is 
inhabited by none but a race of two-legged animals that carry 
their heads on their shoulders instead of under their arms ; can- 
not talk the lunatic language ; have two eyes instead of one ; are 
destitute of tails, and of a horrible whiteness, instead of pea- 
green — therefore, and for a variety of other excellent reasons, 
they are considered incapable of possessing any property in the 
planet they infest, and the right and title to it are confirmed to 
its original discoverers. — And furthermore, the colonists who are 
now about to depart to the * aforesaid planet are authorized and 
commanded to use every means to convert these infidel savages 
from the darkness of Christianity, and make them thorough and 
absolute lunatics." 

In consequence of this benevolent bull, our philosophic bene- 
factors go to work with hearty zeal. They seize upon our fertile 
territories, scourge us from our rightful possessions, relieve us 
from our wives, and when we are unreasonable enough to 
complain, they will turn upon us and say, Miserable barbarians ! 
ungrateful wretches ! have we not come thousands of miles to 
improve your worthless planet ; have we not fed you with moon- 
shine ; have we not intoxicated you with nitrous oxyd ; does 
not our moon give you light every night, and have you the 
baseness to murmur, when we claim a pitiful return for all these 
benefits? But finding that we not only persist in absolute 
contempt of their reasoning and disbelief in their philosophy, 
but even go so far as daringly to defend our property, their 
patience shall be exhausted, and they shall resort to their 
superior powers of argument ; hunt us with hyppogriffs, transfix 
us with concentrated sunbeams, demolish our cities with moon- 
stones; until having, by main force, converted us to the true 


faith, they shall graciously permit us to exist in the torrid deserts 
of Arabia, or the frozen regions of Lapland, there to enjoy the 
blessings of civilization and the charms of lunar philosophy, in 
much the same manner as the reformed and enlightened savages 
of this country are kindly suffered to inhabit the inhospitable 
forests of the north, or the impenetrable wildernesses of South 

Thus, I hope, I have clearly proved, and strikingly illustrated, 
the right of the early colonists to the possession of this country ; 
and thus is this gigantic question completely vanquished: so 
having manfully surmounted all obstacles, and subdued all oppo- 
sition, what remains but that I should forthwith conduct my 
readers into the city which we have been so long in a manner 
besieging? But hold; before I proceed another step, I must 
pause to take breath, and recover from the excessive fatigue 
I have undergone, in preparing to begin this most accurate of 
histories. And in this I do but imitate the example of a 
renowned Dutch tumbler of antiquity, who took a start of three 
miles for the purpose of jumping over a hill, but having run 
himself out of breath by the time he reached the foot, sat himself 
quietly down for a few moments to blow, and then walked over 
it at his leisure. 






My great-grandfather, by the mother's side, Hermanus Van 
Clattercop, when employed to build the large stone church at 
Rotterdam, which stands about three hundred yards to your left 
after you turn off from the Boomkeys, and which is so conve- 
niently constructed, that all the zealous Christians of Rotterdam 
prefer sleeping through a sermon, there to any other church in 
the city — my great-grandfather, I say, when employed to build 
that famous church, did in the first place send to Delft for a box 
of long pipes; then having purchased a new spitting-box and 
a hundred weight of the best Virginia, he sat himself down, and 
did nothing for the space of three months but smoke most 


laboriously. Then did lie spend full three months more in 
trudging on foot, and voyaging in trekschuit, from Rotterdam to 
Amsterdam — to Delft — to Haerlem — to Leyden — to the Hague, 
knocking his head and breaking his pipe against every church 
in his road. Then did he advance gradually nearer and nearer 
to Rotterdam, until he came in full sight of the identical spot 
whereon the church was to be built. Then did he spend three 
months longer in walking round it and round it, contemplating it, 
first from one point of view, and then from another — now would 
he be paddled by it on the canal — now would he peep at it through 
a telescope from the other side of the Meuse, and now would he 
take a bird's-eye glance at it, from the top of one of those gigantic 
windmills which protect the gates of the city. The good folks 
of the place were on the tiptoe of expectation and impatience 
— notwithstanding all the turmoil of my great-grandfather, not 
a symptom of the church was yet to be seen ; they even began 
to fear it would never be brought into the world, but that its 
great projector would lie down and die in labor of the mighty 
plan he had conceived. At length, having occupied twelve good 
months in puffing and paddling, and talking and walking — having 
traveled over all Holland, and even taken a peep into France 
and Germany — having smoked five hundred and ninety-nine 
pipes, and three hundred weight of the best Virginia tobacco 
— my great-grandfather gathered together all that knowing and 
industrious class of citizens who prefer attending to any body's 
business sooner than their own, and having pulled off his coat 
and five pair of breeches, he advanced sturdily up, and laid the 
corner-stone of the church, in the presence of the whole multi- 
tude — just at the commencement of the thirteenth month. 

In a similar manner, and with the example of my worthy 


ancestor full before my eyes, have I proceeded in writing this 
most authentic history. The honest Rotterdamers no doubt 
thought my great-grandfather was doing nothing at all to the 
purpose, while he was making such a world of prefatory bustle, 
about the building of his church — and many of the ingenious 
inhabitants of this fair city will unquestionably suppose that all 
the preliminary chapters, with the discovery, population, and 
final settlement of America, were totally irrelevant and super- 
fluous — and that the main business, the history of New- York, 
is not a jot more advanced, than if I had never taken up my 
pen. Never were wise people more mistaken in their conjec- 
tures ; in consequence of going to work slowly and deliberately, 
the church came out of my grandfather's hands one of the most 
sumptuous, goodly, and glorious edifices in the known world — 
excepting that, like our magnificent capitoi, at Washington, it 
was begun on so grand a scale that the good folks could not 
afford to finish more than the wing of it. So, likewise, I trust, 
if ever I am able to finish this work on the plan I have com- 
menced, (of which, in simple truth, I sometimes have my doubts,) 
it will be found that I have pursued the latest rules of my art, 
as exemplified in the writings of all the great American his- 
torians, and wrought a very large history out of a small subject — 
which, now-a-days, is considered one of the great triumphs of 
historic skill. To proceed, then, with the thread of my story. 

In the ever memorable year of our Lord, 1609, on a Saturday 
morning, the five-and-twentieth day of March, old style, did that 
"worthy and irrecoverable discoverer, (as he has justly been 
called,) Master Henry Hudson," set sail from Holland in a stout 
vessel called the Half Moon, being employed by the Dutch East 
India Company, to seek a northwest passage to China. 


Henry (or, as the Dutch historians call him, Hendrick) 
Hudson, was a sea-faring man of renown, who had learned to 
smoke tobacco under Sir Walter Raleigh, and is said to have 
been the first to introduce it into Holland, which gained him much 
popularity in that country, and caused him to find great favor in 
the eyes of their High Mightinesses, the lords states general, and 
also of the honorable "West India Company. He was a short, 
square, brawny old gentleman, with a double chin, a mastiff 
mouth, and a broad copper nose, which was supposed in those 
days to have acquired its fiery hue from the constant neighbor- 
hood of his tobacco pipe. 

He wore a true Andrea Ferrara, tucked in a leathern belt, 
and a commodore's cocked hat on one side of his head. He was 
remarkable for always jerking up his breeches when he gave out 
his orders, and his voice sounded not unlike the brattling of a 
tin trumpet — owing to the number of hard northwesters which 
he had swallowed in the course of his sea-faring. 

Such was Hendrick Hudson, of whom we have heard so 
much, and know so little : and I have been thus particular in his 
description for the benefit of modern painters and statuaries, that 
they may represent him as he was ; and not, according to their 
common custom with modern heroes, make him look like Caesar, 
or Marcus Aurelius, or the Apollo of Belvidere. 

As chief mate and favorite companion, the commodore chose 
master Robert Juet, of Limehouse, in England. By some his 
uame has been spelled Chewit, and ascribed to the circumstance 
of his having been the first man that ever chewed tobacco ; but 
this I believe to be a mere flippancy ; more especially as certain 
of his progeny are living at this day, who write their names Juet. 
He was an old comrade and early schoolmate of the great Hudson, 


with whom he had often played truant and sailed chip boats in a 
neighboring pond, when they were little boys — from whence it is 
said the commodore first derived his bias towards a sea-faring life. 
Certain it is, that the old people about Limehouse declared 
Robert Juet to be an unlucky urchin, prone to mischief, that 
would one day or other come to the gallows. 

He grew up as boys of that kind often grow up, a rambling, 
heedless varlet, tossed about in all quarters of the world — meet- 
ing with more perils and wonders than did Sindbad the Sailor, 
without growing a whit more wise, prudent, or ill-natured. Un- 
der every misfortune, he comforted himself with a quid of tobacco, 
and the truly philosophic maxim, that " it will be all the same 
thing a hundred years hence." He was skilled in the art of 
carving anchors and true lovers' knots on the bulk-heads and 
quarter-railings, and was considered a great wit on board ship, in 
consequence of his playing pranks on every body around, and 
now and then even making a wry face at old Hendrick, when his 
back was turned. 

To this universal genius are we indebted for many particulars 
concerning this voyage ; of which he wrote a history, at the re- 
quest of the commodore, who had an unconquerable aversion to 
writing himself, from having received so many floggings about it 
when at school. To supply the deficiencies of master Juet's jour- 
nal, which is written with true log-book brevity, I have availed 
myself of divers family traditions, handed down from my great- 
great-grandfather, who accompanied the expedition in the capacity 
of cabin-boy. 

From all that I can learn, few incidents worthy of remark hap- 
pened in the voyage ; and it mortifies me exceedingly that I have 


to admit so noted an expedition into my work, without making 
any more of it. 

Suffice it to say, the voyage was prosperous and tranquil — the 
crew, being a patient people, much given to slumber and vacuity, 
and but little troubled with the disease of thinking — a malady of 
the mind, which is the sure breeder of discontent. Hudson had 
laid in abundance of gin and sourcrout, and every man was al- 
lowed to sleep quietly at his post unless the wind blew. True it 
is, some slight disaffection was shown on two or three occasions, 
at certain unreasonable conduct of Commodore Hudson. Thus, 
for instance, he forbore to shorten sail when the wind was light, 
and the weather serene, which was considered among the most 
experienced Dutch seamen, as certain weather-breeders, or prog- 
nostics, that the weather would change for the worse. He acted, 
moreover, in direct contradiction to that ancient and sage rule of 
the Dutch navigators, who always took in sail at night — put the 
helm a-port, and turned in — by which precaution they had a good 
night's rest — were sure of knowing where they were the next 
morning, and stood but little chance of running down a continent 
in the dark. He likewise prohibited the seamen from wearing 
more than five jackets and six pair of breeches, under pretence 
of rendering them more alert ; and no man was permitted to go 
aloft, and hand in sails with a pipe in his mouth, as is the invaria- 
ble Dutch custom at the present day. All these grievances, 
though they might ruffle for a moment the constitutional tran- 
quillity of the honest Dutch tars, made but transient impression ; 
they eat hugely, drank profusely, and slept immeasurably, and 
being under the especial guidance of Providence, the ship was 
safely conducted to the coast of America ; where, after sundry 


unimportant touchings and standings off and on, she at length, on 
the fourth day of September, entered that majestic bay, which at 
this day expands its ample bosom before the city of New- York, 
and which had never before been visited by any European.* 

It has been traditionary in our family, that when the great 
navigator was first blessed with a view of this enchanting island, 
he was observed, for the first and only time in his life, to exhibit 
strong symptoms of astonishment and admiration. He is said to 
have turned to master Juet, and uttered these remarkable words, 
while he pointed towards this paradise of the new world — " See ! 
there !" — and thereupon, as was always his way when he was 
uncommonly pleased, he did puff out such clouds of dense to- 
bacco smoke, that in one minute the vessel was out of sight of 
land, and master Juet was fain to wait until the winds dispersed 
this impenetrable fog. 

* True it is — and I am not ignorant of the fact, that in a certain aprocry- 
phal book of voyages, compiled by one Hakluyt, is to be found a letter written 
to Francis the First, by one Giovanne, or John Verazzani, on which some 
writers are inclined to found a belief that this delightful bay had been visited 
nearly a century previous to the voyage of the enterprising Hudson. Now this 
(albeit it has met with the countenance of certain very judicious and learned 
men) I hold in utter disbelief, and that for various good and substantial reasons : 
First, Because on strict examination it will be found, that the description given 
by this Verazzani applies about as well to the bay of New-York as it does to 
my night-cap. Secondly, Because that this John Verazzani, for whom I al- 
ready begin to feel a most bitter enmity, is a native of Florence ; and every 
body knows the crafty wiles of these losel Florentines, by which they filched 
away the laurels from the brows of the immortal Colon, (vulgarly called Colum- 
bus,) and bestowed them on their officious townsman, Amerigo Vespucci ; and 
I make no doubt they are equally ready to rob the illustrious Hudson of the 
credit of discovering this beautiful island, adorned by the city of New- York, 



It was indeed — as my great-grandfather used to say — though 
in truth I never heard him, for he died, as might be expected, 
before I was born — "It was indeed a spot on which the eye 
might have reveled for ever, in ever new and never ending 
beauties." The island of Mannahata spread wide before them, 
like some sweet vision of fancy, or some fair creation of indus- 
trious magic. Its hills of smiling green swelled gently one above 
another, crowned with lofty trees of luxuriant growth; some 
pointing their tapering foliage towards the clouds, which were 
gloriously transparent ; and others loaded with a verdant burthen 
of clambering vines, bowing their branches to the earth, that was 
covered with flowers. On the gentle declivities of the hills were 
scattered in gay profusion, the dog-wood, the sumach, and the 
wild brier, whose scarlet berries and white blossoms glowed 
brightly among the deep green of the surrounding foliage ; and 
here and there a curling column of smoke rising from the little 
glens that opened along the shore, seemed to promise the weary 
voyagers a welcome at the hands of their fellow creatures. As 
they stood gazing with entranced attention on the scene before 
them, a red man, crowned with feathers, issued from one of these 
glens, and after contemplating in silent wonder the gallant ship, 

and placing it beside their usurped discovery of South America. And, thirdly, 
I award my decision in favor of the pretensions of Hendrick Hudson, inasmuch 
as his expedition sailed from Holland, being truly and absolutely a Dutch en- 
terprise — and though all the proofs in the world were introduced on the other 
side, I would set them at naught, as undeserving my attention. If these three 
reasons be not sufficient, to satisfy every burgher of this ancient city — all I can 
say is, they are degenerate descendants from their venerable Dutch ancestors, 
and totally unworthy the trouble of convincing. Thus, therefore, the title of 
Hendrick Hudson to his renowned discovery is fully vindicated. 


as she sat like a stately swan swimming on a silver lake, sounded 
the warhoop, and bounded into the woods like a wild deer, to 
the utter astonishment of the phlegmatic Dutchmen, who had 
never heard such a noise, or witnessed such a caper in their 
whole lives. 

Of the transactions of our adventurers with the savages, and 
how the latter smoked copper pipes, and ate dried currants ; how 
they brought great store of tobacco and oysters ; how they shot 
one of the ship's crew, and how he was buried, I shall say 
nothing ; being that I consider them unimportant to my history. 
After tarrying a few days in the bay, in order to refresh them- 
selves after their sea-faring, our voyagers weighed anchor, to 
explore a mighty river which emptied into the bay. This river, 
it is said, was known among the savages by the name of the 
Shatemuck ; though we are assured in an excellent little history 
published in 1674, by John Josselyn, Gent., that it was called 
the Mohegan* and master Richard Bloome, who wrote some 
time afterwards, asserts the same — so that I very much incline 
in favor of the opinion of these two honest gentlemen. Be this 
as it may, up this river did the adventurous Hendrick proceed, 
little doubting but it would turn out to be the much looked for 
passage to China ! 

The journal goes on to make mention of divers interviews 
between the crew and the natives, in the voyage up the river ; 
but as they would be impertinent to my history, I shall pass over 
them in silence, except the following dry joke, played oif by the 
old commodore and his school-fellow, Robert Juet, which does 

* This river is likewise laid down in Ogilvy's map as Manhattan — Noordt 
Montaigne and Mauritius river. 


such vast credit to their experimental philosophy, that I cannot 
refrain from inserting it. " Our master and his mate determined 
to try some of the chiefe men of the countrey, whether they had 
any treacherie in them. So they tooke them downe into the cabin, 
and gave them so much wine and aqua vitse, that they were all 
merrie ; and one of them had his wife with him, which sate so 
modestly, as any of our countrey women would do in a strange 
place. In the end, one of them was drunke, which had been 
aborde of our ship all the time that we had been there, and that 
was strange to them, for they could not tell how to take it."* 

Having satisfied himself by this ingenious experiment, that 
the natives were an honest, social race of jolly roysters, who had 
no objection to a drinking bout, and were very merry in their 
cups, the old commodore chuckled hugely to himself, and thrust- 
ing a double quid of tobacco in his cheek, directed master Juet 
to have it carefully recorded, for the satisfaction of all the natu- 
ral philosophers of the university of Leyden — which done, he 
proceeded on his voyage, with great self-complacency. After 
sailing, however, above an hundred miles up the river, he found 
the watery world around him began to grow more shallow and 
confined, the current more rapid, and perfectly fresh — phenom- 
ena not uncommon in the ascent of rivers, but which puzzled the 
honest Dutchmen prodigiously. A consultation was therefore 
called, and having deliberated full six hours, they were brought 
to a determination, by the ship's running aground — whereupon 
they unanimously concluded, that there was but little chance of 
getting to China in this direction. A boat, however, was dis- 
patched to explore higher up the river, which, on its return, con- 

* Juet's Journ. Purch. Pil. 


firmed the opinion — upon this the ship was warped off and put 
about, with great difficulty, being like most of her sex, exceedingly 
hard to govern ; and the adventurous Hudson, according to the 
account of my great-great-grandfather, returned down the river 
— with a prodigious flea in his ear ! 

Being satisfied that there was little likelihood of getting to 
China, unless, like the blind man, he returned from whence he 
sat out, and took a fresh start, he forthwith recrossed the sea 
to Holland, where he was received with great welcome by the 
honorable East India Company, who were very much rejoiced 
to see him come back safe — with their ship ; and at a large and 
respectable meeting of the first merchants and burgomasters 
of Amsterdam, it was unanimously determined, that as a munifi- 
cent reward for the eminent services he had performed, and the 
important discovery he had made, the great river Mohegan 
should be called after his name ! — and it continues to be called 
Hudson river unto this very day. 




The delectable accounts given by the great Hudson, and master 
Juet, of the country they had discovered, excited not a little talk 
and speculation among the good people of Holland. Letters 
patent were granted by government to an association of mer- 
chants, called the West India Company, for the exclusive trade 
on Hudson river, on which they erected a trading-house called 
Fort Aurania, or Orange, from whence did spring the great city 
of Albany. But I forbear to dwell on the various commercial 
and colonizing enterprises which took place ; among which was 
t^at of Mynheer Adrian Block, who discovered and gave a name 
to Block Island, since famous for its cheese — and shall barely 
confine myself to that which gave birth to this renowned city. 
It was some three or four years after the return of the 
immortal Hendrick, that a crew of honest, Low Dutch colonists 
set sail from the city of Amsterdam, for the shores of America. 
It is an irreparable loss to history, and a great proof of the 


darkness of the age, and the lamentable neglect of the noble art 
of book-making, since so industriously cultivated by knowing sea- 
captains, and learned supercargoes, that an expedition so interest- 
ing and important in its results, should be passed over in utter 
silence. To my great-great-grandfather am I again indebted for 
the few facts I am enabled to give concerning it — he having once 
more embarked for this country, with a full determination, as he 
said, of ending his days here — and of begetting a race of Knicker- 
bockers, that should rise to be great men in the land. 

The ship in which these illustrious adventurers set sail was 
called the Goede Vrouw, or good woman, in compliment to the 
wife of the President of the "West India Company, who was al- 
lowed by every body (except her husband) to be a sweet-tem- 
pered lady — when not in liquor. It was in truth a most gallant 
vessel, of the most approved Dutch construction, and made by the 
ablest ship-carpenters of Amsterdam, who, it is well known, al- 
ways model their ships after the fair forms of their countrywomen. 
Accordingly, it had one hundred feet in the beam, one hundred 
feet in the keel, and one hundred feet from the bottom of the 
stern-post to the tafferel. Like the beauteous model, who was de- 
clared to be the greatest belle in Amsterdam, it was full in the 
bows, with a pair 6f enormous cat-heads, a copper bottom, and 
withal a most prodigious poop ! 

The architect, who was somewhat of a religious man, far from 
decorating the ship with pagan idols, such as Jupiter, Neptune, or 
Hercules, (which heathenish abominations, I have no doubt occa- 
sion the misfortunes and shipwreck of many a noble vessel,) he, 
I say, on the contrary, did laudably erect for a head, a goodly 
image of St. Nicholas, equipped with a low, broad-brimmed hat, 
a huge pair of Flemish trunk hose, and a pipe that reached to the 


end of the bowsprit. Thus gallantly furnished, the stanch ship 
floated sideways, like a majestic goose, out of the harbor of the 
great city of Amsterdam, and all the bells, that were not other- 
wise engaged, rang a triple bobmajor on the joyful occasion. 

My great-great-grandfather remarks, that the voyage was un- 
commonly prosperous, for, being under the especial care of the ever- 
revered St. Nicholas, the Goede Vrouw seemed to be endowed with 
qualities unknown to common vessels. Thus she made as much 
leeway as headway, could get along very nearly as fast with the 
wind ahead, as when it was a-poop — and was particularly great 
in a calm ; in consequence of which singular advantages, she 
made out to accomplish her voyage in a very few months, and 
came to anchor at the mouth of the Hudson, a little to the east of 
Gibbet Island. 

Here lifting up their eyes, they beheld, on what is at present 
called the Jersey shore, a small Indian village, pleasantly em- 
bowered in a grove of spreading elms, and the natives all col- 
lected on the beach, gazing in stupid admiration at the Goede 
Vrouw. A boat was immediately dispatched to enter into a 
treaty with them, and approaching the shore, hailed them through 
a trumpet, in the most friendly terms ; but so horribly confounded 
were these poor savages at the tremendous and uncouth sound of 
the Low Dutch language, that they one and all took to their heels, 
and scampered over the Bergen hills; nor did they stop until 
they had buried themselves, head and ears, in the marshes on the 
other side, where they all miserably perished to a man — and their 
bones being collected and decently covered by the Tammany So- 
ciety of that day, formed that singular mound called Rattle- 
snake Hill, which rises out of the centre of the salt marshes, a 
little to the east of the Newark Causeway. 


Animated by this unlooked-for victory, our valiant heroes 
sprang ashore in triumph, took possession of the soil as conquer- 
ors, in the name of their High Mightinesses the Lords States Ge- 
neral; and marching fearlessly forward, carried the village of 
Communipaw by storm, notwithstanding that it was vigorously 
defended by some half a score of old squaws and pappooses. On 
looking about them they were so transported with the excellencies 
of the place, that they had very little doubt the blessed St. Nicho- 
las had guided them thither, as the very spot whereon to settle 
their colony. The softness of the soil was wonderfully adapted 
to the driving of piles ; the swamps and marshes around them 
afforded ample opportunities for the constructing of dykes and 
dams ; the shallowness of the shore was peculiarly favorable to 
the building of docks — in a word, this spot abounded with all the 
requisites for the foundation of a great Dutch city. On making 
a faithful report, therefore, to the crew of the Goede Vrouw, they 
one and all determined that this was the destined end of their 
voyage. Accordingly they descended from the Goede Vrouw, 
men, women, and children, in goodly groups, as did the animals 
of yore from the ark, and formed themselves into a thriving set- 
tlement, which they called by the Indian name Communipaw. 

As all the world is doubtless perfectly acquainted with Com- 
munipaw, it may seem somewhat superfluous to treat of it in the 
present work ; but my readers will please to recollect, that not- 
withstanding it is my chief desire to satisfy the present age, yet I 
write likewise for posterity, and have to consult the understanding 
and curiosity of some half a score of centuries yet to come ; by 
which time, perhaps, were it not for this invaluable history, the 
great Communipaw, like Babylon, Carthage, Nineveh, and other 
great cities, might be perfectly extinct — sunk and forgotten in its 


own mud — its inhabitants turned into oysters,* and even its situa- 
tion a fertile subject of learned controversy and hard-headed in- 
vestigation among indefatigable historians. Let me then piously 
rescue from oblivion the humble relics of a place, which was the 
egg from whence was hatched the mighty city of New- York ! 

Communipaw is at present but a small village, pleasantly 
situated, among rural scenery, on that beauteous part of the 
Jersey shore which was known in ancient legends by the name 
of Pavonia,t and commands a grand prospect of the superb bay 
of New- York. It is within but half an hour's sail of the latter 
place, provided you have a fair wind, and may be distinctly seen 
from the city. Nay, it is a well known fact, which I can testify 
from my own experience, that on a clear still summer evening, 
you may hear, from the battery of New- York, the obstreperous 
peals of broad-mouthed laughter of the Dutch negroes at Com- 
munipaw, who, like most other negroes, are famous for their 
risible powers. This is peculiarly the case on Sunday evenings, 
when, it is remarked by an ingenious and observant philosopher, 
who has made great discoveries in the neighborhood of this city, 
that they always laugh loudest — which he attributes to the cir- 
cumstance of their having their holiday clothes on. 

These negroes, in fact, like the monks in the dark ages, 
engross all the knowledge of the place, and being infinitely more 
adventurous and more knowing than their masters, carry on all 
the foreign trade ; making frequent voyages to town in canoes 
loaded with oysters, buttermilk, and cabbages. They are great 
astrologers, predicting the different changes of weather almost as 

* Men by inaction degenerate into oysters. — Kaimes. 
t Pavonia, in the ancient maps, is given to a tract of country extending 
from about Hoboken to Amboy. 


accurately as an almanac — they are moreover exquisite per- 
formers on three-stringed fiddles : in whistling they almost boast 
the far-famed powers of Orpheus's lyre, for not a horse or an ox 
in the place, when at the plough or before the wagon, will budge 
a foot until he hears the well known whistle of his black driver 
and companion. — And from their amazing skill at casting up 
accounts upon their fingers, they are regarded with as much 
veneration as were the disciples of Pythagoras of yore, when 
initiated into the sacred quaternary of numbers. 

As to the honest burghers of Communipaw, like wise men 
and sound philosophers, they never look beyond their pipes, nor 
trouble their heads about any affairs out of their immediate 
neighborhood ; so that they live in profound and enviable igno- 
rance of all the troubles, anxieties, and revolutions of this 
distracted planet. I am even told that many among them do 
verily believe that Holland, of which they have heard so much 
from tradition, is situated somewhere on Long Island — that 
Spiking -devil and the Narrows are the two ends of the world — 
that the country is still under the dominion of their High 
Mightinesses, and that the city of New- York still goes by the 
name of Nieuw Amsterdam. They meet every Saturday after- 
noon, at the only tavern in the place, which bears as a sign, a 
square-headed likeness of the Prince of Orange, where they 
smoke a silent pipe, by way of promoting social conviviality, and 
invariably drink a mug of cider to the success of Admiral 
Van Tromp, who they imagine is still sweeping the British 
channel, with a broom at his mast-head. 

Communipaw, in short, is one of the numerous little villages 
in the vicinity of this most beautiful of cities, which are so many 
strong-holds and fastnesses, whither the primitive manners of our 


Dutch forefathers have retreated, and where they are cherished 
with devout and scrupulous strictness. The dress of the original 
settlers is handed down inviolate, from father to son — the identi- 
cal broad-brimmed hat, broad-skirted coat, and broad-bottomed 
breeches, continue from generation to generation; and several 
gigantic knee-buckles of massy silver, are still in wear, that made 
gallant display in the days of the patriarchs of Communipaw. 
The language likewise continues unadulterated by barbarous 
innovations ; and so critically correct is the village schoolmaster 
in his dialect, that his reading of a Low Dutch psalm has much 
the same effect on the nerves as the filing of a handsaw. 





Having, in the trifling digression which concluded the last 
chapter, discharged the filial duty which the city of New- York 
owed to Communipaw, as being the mother settlement ; and hav- 
ing given a faithful picture of it as it stands at present, I return 
with a soothing sentiment of self-approbation, to dwell upon its 
early history. The crew of the Goede Vrouw being soon rein- 
forced by fresh importations from Holland, the settlement went 
jollily on, increasing in magnitude and prosperity. The neigh- 
boring Indians in a short time became accustomed to the uncouth 
sound of the Dutch language, and an intercourse gradually took 
place between them and the new comers. The Indians were 
much given to long talks, and the Dutch to long silence — in this 
particular, therefore, they accommodated each other completely. 
The chiefs would make long speeches about the big bull, the Wa- 
bash, and the Great Spirit, to which the others would listen very 
attentively, smoke their pipes, and grunt yah, myn-her — whereat 


the poor savages were wondrously delighted. They instructed 
the new settlers in the best art of curing and smoking tobacco, 
while the latter, in return, made them drunk with true Hollands — 
and then taught them the art of making bargains. 

A brisk trade for furs was soon opened : the Dutch traders 
were scrupulously honest in their dealings, and purchased by 
weight, establishing it as an invariable table of avoirdupois, that 
the hand of a Dutchman weighed one pound, and his foot two 
pounds. It is true, the simple Indians were often puzzled by the 
great disproportion between bulk and weight, for let them place a 
bundle of furs, never so large, in one scale, and a Dutchman put 
his hand or foot in the other, the bundle was sure to kick the 
beam — never was a package of furs known to weigh more than 
two pounds in the market of Communipaw ! 

This is a singular fact — but I have it direct from my great- 
great-grandfather, who had risen to considerable importance in 
the colony, being promoted to the office of weigh-master, on 
account of the uncommon heaviness of his foot. 

The Dutch possessions in this part of the globe began now to 
assume a very thriving appearance, and were comprehended 
under the general title of Nieuw Nederlandts, on account, as the 
sage Vander Donck observes, of their great resemblance to the 
Dutch Netherlands — which indeed was truly remarkable, except- 
ing that the former were rugged and mountainous, and the latter 
level and marshy. About this time the tranquillity of the Dutch 
colonists was doomed to suffer a temporary interruption. In 
1614, Captain Sir Samuel Argal, sailing under a commission 
from Dale, governor of Virginia, visited the Dutch settlements on 
Hudson River, and demanded their submission to the English 
crown and Virginian dominion. To this arrogant demand, as 


they were in no condition to resist it, they submitted for the time, 
like discreet and reasonable men. 

It does not appear that the valiant Argal molested the settle- 
ment of Communipaw ; on the contrary, I am told that when his 
vessel first hove in sight, the worthy burghers were seized with 
such a panic, that they fell to smoking their pipes with astonish- 
ing vehemence ; insomuch that they quickly raised a cloud, which, 
combining with the surrounding woods and marshes, completely 
enveloped and concealed their beloved village, and overhung the 
fair regions of Pavonia — so that the terrible Captain Argal passed 
on, totally unsuspicious that a sturdy little Dutch settlement lay 
snugly couched in the mud, under cover of all this pestilent vapor. 
In commemoration of this fortunate escape, the worthy inhabit- 
ants have continued to smoke, almost without intermission, unto 
this very day ; which is said to be the cause of the remarkable 
fog which often hangs over Communipaw of a clear afternoon. 

Upon the departure of the enemy, our worthy ancestors took 
full six months to recover their wind and get over the consterna- 
tion into which they had been thrown. They then called a coun- 
cil of safety to smoke over the state of the province. At this 
council presided one Oloffe Van Kortlandt, a personage who was 
held in great reverence among the sages of Communipaw for the 
variety and darkness of his knowledge. He had originally been 
one of a set of peripatetic philosophers who passed much of their 
time sunning themselves on the side of the great canal of Am- 
sterdam in Holland ; enjoying, like Diogenes, a free and unincum- 
bered estate in sunshine. His name Kortlandt (Shortland or 
Lackland) was supposed, like that of the illustrious Jean Sans- 
terre, to indicate that he had no land ; but he insisted, on the 
contrary, that he had great landed estates somewhere in Terra 


Incognita ; and he had come out to the new world to look after 
them. He was the first great land speculator that we read of in 
these parts. 

Like all land speculators, he was much given to dreaming. 
Never did any thing extraordinary happen at Communipaw but 
he declared that he had previously dreamt it ; being one of those 
infallible prophets who predict events after they have come to 
pass. This supernatural gift was as highly valued among the 
burghers of Pavonia as among the enlightened nations of anti- 
quity. The wise Ulysses was more indebted to his sleeping than 
his waking moments for his most subtle achievements, and seldom 
undertook any great exploit without first soundly sleeping upon 
it ; and the same may be said of Oloffe Van Kortlandt, who was 
thence aptly denominated Oloffe the Dreamer. 

As yet his dreams and speculations had turned to little per- 
sonal profit ; and he was as much a lack-land as ever. Still he 
carried a high head hi the community ; if his sugar-loaf hat was 
rather the worse for wear, he set it off with a taller cock's-tail ; if 
his shirt was none of the cleanest, he puffed it out the more at the 
bosom ; and if the tail of it peeped out of a hole in his breeches, 
it at least proved that it really had a tail and was not mere 

The worthy Van Kortlandt, in the council in question, urged 
the policy of emerging from the swamps of Communipaw and 
seeking some more eligible site for the seat of empire. Such, he 
said, was the advice of the good St. Nicholas, who had appeared 
to him in a dream the night before ; and whom he had known by 
his broad hat, his long pipe, and the resemblance which he bore 
to the figure on the bow of the Goede Vrouw. 

Many have thought this dream was a mere invention of Oloffe 


Van Kortlandt ; who, it is said, had ever regarded Communipaw 
with an evil eye because he had arrived there after all the land 
had been shared out, and who was anxious to change the seat of 
empire to some new place, where he might be present at the 
distribution of " town lots." But we must not give heed to such 
insinuations, which are too apt to be advanced against those wor- 
thy gentlemen engaged in laying out towns, and in other land 
speculations. For my own part, I am disposed to place the same 
implicit faith in the vision of Oloffe the Dreamer that was mani 
fested by the honest burghers of Communipaw, who one and all 
agreed that an expedition should be forthwith fitted out to go on 
a voyage of discovery in quest of a new seat of empire. 

This perilous enterprise was to be conducted by Oloffe him- 
self; who chose as lieutenants or coadjutors Mynheers Abraham 
Hardenbroeck, Jacobus Van Zandt, and Winant Ten Broeck — 
three indubitably great men, but of whose history, although 1 
have made diligent inquiry, I can learn but little previous to 
their leaving Holland. Nor need this occasion much surprise ; 
for adventurers, like prophets, though they make great noise 
abroad, have seldom much celebrity in their own countries ; but 
this much is certain, that the overflowings and offscourings of a 
country are invariably composed of the richest parts of the soil. 
And here I cannot help remarking how convenient it would be 
to many of our great men and great families of doubtful origin, 
could they have the privilege of the heroes of yore, who, when- 
ever their origin was involved in obscurity, modestly announced 
themselves descended from a god — and who never visited a for- 
eign country but what they told some cock and bull stories about 
their being kings and princes at home. This venal trespass on 
the truth, though it has been occasionally played off by some 



pseudo marquis, baronet, and other illustrious foreigner, in out 
land of good-natured credulity, lias been completely discounte- 
nanced in this skeptical, matter of fact age — and I even question 
whether any tender virgin, who was accidentally and unaccount- 
ably enriched with a bantling, would save her character at parlor 
firesides and evening tea-parties by ascribing the phenomenon 
to a swan, a shower of gold, or a river god. 

Had I the benefit of mythology and classic fable above alluded 
to, I should have furnished the first of the trio with a pedigree 
equal to that of the proudest hero of antiquity. His name, Van 
Zandt, that is to say, from the sand, or in common parlance, from 
the dirt, gave reason to suppose that like Triptolemus, Themes, 
the Cyclops and the Titans, he had sprung from Dame Terra, or 
the earth ! This supposition is strongly corroborated by his size, 
for it is well known that all the progeny of mother earth were of 
a gigantic stature ; and Van Zandt, we are told, was a tall, raw- 
boned man, above six feet high — with an astonishingly hard head. 
Nor is this origin of the illustrious Van Zandt a whit more im- 
probable or repugnant to belief than what is related and univer- 
sally admitted of certain of our greatest, or rather richest men ; 
who, we are told with the utmost gravity, did originally spring 
from a dunghill ! 

Of the second of the trio, but faint accounts have reached to 
this time, which mention that he was a sturdy, obstinate, worry- 
ing, bustling little man ; and, from being usually equipped in an 
old pair of buckskins, was familiarly dubbed Harden Broeck ; that 
is to say, Hard in the Breech ; or, as it was generally rendered, 
Tough Breeches. 

Ten Broeck completed this junto of adventurers. It is a sin- 
gular but ludicrous fact, which, were I not scrupulous in record- 


ing the whole truth, I should almost be tempted to pass over in 
silence as incompatible with the gravity and dignity of history ; 
that this worthy gentleman should likewise have been nicknamed 
from what in modern times is considered the most ignoble part of 
the dress. But in truth the small clothes seems to have been a 
very dignified garment in the eyes of our venerated ancestors, in 
all probability from its covering that part of the body which has 
been pronounced " the seat of honor." 

The name of Ten Broeck, or as it was sometimes spelled Tin 
Broeck, has been indifferently translated into Ten Breeches and 
Tin Breeches. Certain elegant and ingenious writers on the sub- 
ject declare in favor of Tin, or rather Thin Breeches ; whence 
they infer that the original bearer of it was a poor but merry 
rogue, whose galligaskins were none of the soundest, and who, 
peradventure, may have been the author of that truly philosophical 
stanza : 

" Then why should we quarrel for riches, 
Or any such glittering toys ; 
A light heart and thin pair of breeches 

Will go thorough the world, my brave boys !" 

The more accurate commentators, however, declare in favor 
of the other reading, and affirm that the worthy in question, was 
a burly, bulbous man, who, in sheer ostentation of his venerable 
progenitors, was the first to introduce into the settlement the an- 
cient Dutch fashion of ten pair of breeches. 

Such was the trio of coadjutors chosen by Oloffe the Dreamer, 
to accompany him in this voyage into unknown realms ; as to the 
names of his crews they have not been handed down by history* 

Having, as I before observed, passed much of his life in the 


open air, among the peripatetic philosophers of Amsterdam, 
Oloffe had become familiar with the aspect of the heavens, and 
could as accurately determine when a storm was brewing or a 
squall rising, as a dutiful husband can foresee, from the brow of 
Ms spouse, when a tempest is gathering about his ears. Having 
pitched upon a time for his voyage, when the skies appeared pro- 
pitious he exhorted all his crews to take a good night's rest ; wind 
up their family affairs and make their wills ; precautions taken 
by our forefathers even in after times when they became more 
adventurous, and voyaged to Haverstraw, or Kaatskill, or Groodt 
Esopus, or any other far country, beyond the great waters of the 
Tappaan Zee. 



And now the rosy blush of morn began to mantle in the east, 
and soon the rising sun, emerging from amidst golden and purple 
clouds, shed his blithsome rays on the tin weathercocks of Com- 
munipaw. It was that delicious season of the year, when nature, 
breaking from the chilling thraldom of old winter, like a bloom- 
ing damsel from the tyranny of a sordid old father, threw herself, 
blushing with ten thousand charms, into the arms of youthful 
spring. Every tufted copse and blooming grove resounded with 
the notes of hymeneal love. The very insects, as they sipped the 
dew that gemmed the tender grass of the meadows, joined in the 
joyous epithalamium — the virgin bud timidly put forth its blushes, 
" the voice of the turtle was heard in the land," and the heart of 
man dissolved away in tenderness. Oh ! sweet Theocritus ! had 
I thine oaten reed, wherewith thou erst did charm the gay Sicilian 
plains — Or Oh! gentle Bion! thy pastoral pipe, wherein the 
happy swains of the Lesbian isle so much delighted, then might 
I attempt to sing, in soft Bucolic or negligent Idyllium, the rural 
beauties of the scene — but having nothing, save this jaded goose 
quill, wherewith to wing my flight, I must fain resign all poetic 


disportings of the fancy, and pursue my narrative in humble 
prose ; comforting myself with the hope, that though it may not 
steal so sweetly upon the imagination of my reader, yet it may 
commend itself, with virgin modesty, to his better judgment, 
clothed in the chaste and simple garb of truth. 

No sooner did the first rays of cheerful Phoebus dart into 
the windows of Communipaw, than the little settlement was all 
in motion. Forth issued from his castle the sage Van Kortlandt, 
and seizing a conch shell, blew a far resounding blast, that soon 
summoned all his lusty followers. Then did they trudge reso- 
lutely down to the water side, escorted by a multitude of relatives 
and friends, who all went down, as the common phrase expresses 
it, "to see them off." And this shows the antiquity of those 
long family processions, often seen in our city, composed of all 
ages, sizes, and sexes, laden with bundles and bandboxes, escorts 
ing some bevy of country cousins, about to depart for home in a 

The good Oloffe bestowed his forces in a squadron of three 
canoes, and hoisted his flag on board a little round Dutch boat, 
shaped not unlike a tub, which had formerly been the jolly-boat 
of the Goede Vrouw. And now, all being embarked, they bade 
farewell to the gazing throng upon the beach, who continued 
shouting after them, even when out of hearing, wishing them a 
happy voyage, advising them to take good care of themselves, 
not to get drowned — with an abundance other of those sage 
and invaluable cautions, generally given by landsmen to such as 
go down to the sea in ships, and adventure upon the deep waters. 
In the meanwhile the voyagers cheerily urged their course across 
the crystal bosom of the bay, and soon left behind them the 
green shores of ancient Pavonia. 


And first they touched at two small islands which lie nearly 
opposite Communipaw, and which are said to have been brought 
into existence about the time of the great irruption of the Hudson, 
when it broke through the Highlands and made its way to the 
ocean.* For in this tremendous uproar of the waters, we are 
told that many huge fragments of rock and land were rent from 
the mountains and swept down by this runaway river, for sixty 
or seventy miles ; where some of them ran aground on the shoals 
just opposite Communipaw, and formed the identical islands in 
question, while others drifted out to sea, and were never heard of 
more ! A sufficient proof of the fact is, that the rock which 
forms the bases of these islands is exactly similar to that of the 
Highlands, and moreover one of our philosophers, who has 
diligently compared the agreement of their respective surfaces, 
has even gone so far as to assure me, in confidence, that Gibbet 
Island was originally nothing more nor less than a wart on 
Anthony's nose.f 

Leaving these wonderful little isles, they next coasted by 
Governor's Island, since terrible from its frowning fortress and 
grinning batteries. They would by no means, however, land 

* It is a matter long since established by certain of our philosophers, that 
is to say, having been often advanced, and never contradicted, it has grown 
to be pretty nigh equal to a settled fact, that the Hudson was originally a 
lake dammed up by the mountains of the Highlands. In process of time, 
however, becoming very mighty and obstreperous, and the mountains waxing 
pursy, dropsical, and weak in the back, by reason of their extreme old age, 
it suddenly rose upon them, and after a violent struggle effected its escape. 
This is said to have come to pass in very remote time, probably before that 
rivers had lost the art of running up hill. The foregoing is a theory in which 
I do not pretend to be skilled, notwithstanding that I do fully give it my belief. 

t A promontory in the Highlands. 


upon this island, since they doubted much it might be the abode 
of demons and spirits, which in those days did greatly abound 
throughout this savage and pagan country. 

Just at this time a shoal of jolly porpoises came rolling and 
tumbling by, turning up their sleek sides to the sun, and spouting 
up the briny element in sparkling showers. No sooner did the 
sage Oloffe mark this than he was greatly rejoiced. " This," 
exclaimed he, "if I mistake not, augurs well — the porpoise is a 
fat, well-conditioned fish — a burgomaster among fishes — his looks 
betoken ease, plenty, and prosperity — I greatly admire this 
round fat fish, and doubt not but this is a happy omen of the 
success of our undertaking." So saying, he directed his squadron 
to steer in the track of these alderman fishes. 

Turning, therefore, directly to the left, they swept up the 
strait vulgarly called the East River. And here the rapid tide 
which courses through this strait, seizing on the gallant tub in 
which Commodore Van Kortlandt had embarked, hurried it for- 
ward with a velocity unparalleled in a Dutch boat, navigated by 
Dutchmen ; insomuch that the good commodore, who had all his 
life long been accustomed only to the drowsy navigation of canals, 
was more than ever convinced that they were in the hands of 
some supernatural power, and that the jolly porpoises were 
towing them to some fair haven that was to fulfill all their wishes 
and expectations. 

Thus born away by the resistless current, they doubled that 
boisterous point of land since called Corlear's Hook,* and leav- 
ing to the right the rich winding cove of the Wallabout, they 
drifted into a magnificent expanse of water, surrounded by 

* Properly spelt hoeck, (i. e. a point of land.) 


pleasant shores, whose verdure was exceedingly refreshing to 
the eye. While the voyagers were looking around them, on 
what they conceived to be a serene and sunny lake, they beheld 
at a distance a crew of painted savages, busily employed in 
fishing, who seemed more like the genii of this romantic region — 
their slender canoe lightly balanced like a feather on the undula- 
ting surface of the bay. 

At sight of these the hearts of the heroes of Communipaw were 
not a little troubled. But, as good fortune would have it, at the 
bow of the commodore's boat was stationed a very valiant man. 
named Hendrick Kip, (which being interpreted, means chicken, a 
name given him in token of his courage.) No sooner did he behold 
these varlet heathens than he trembled with excessive valor, and 
although a good half mile distant, he seized a musketoon that lay 
at hand, and turning away his head, fired it most intrepidly in 
the face of the blessed sun. The blundering weapon recoiled 
and gave the valiant Kip an ignominious kick, which laid him 
prostrate with uplifted heels in the bottom of the boat. But 
such was the effect of this tremendous fire, that the wild men of 
the woods, struck with consternation, seized hastily upon their 
paddles, and shot away into one of the deep inlets of the Long 
Island shore. 

This signal victory gave new spirits to the voyagers, and 
in honor of the achievement they gave the name of the val- 
iant Kip to the surrounding bay, and it has continued to be 
called Kip's Bay from that time to the present. The heart of 
the good Van Kortlandt — who, having no land of his own, was a 
great admirer of other people's — expanded to the full size of a 
pepper-corn at the sumptuous prospect of rich unsettled country 
around him, and falling into a delicious revery, he straightway 



began to riot in the possession of vast meadows of salt marsh and 
interminable patches of cabbages. From this delectable vision 
he was all at once awakened by the sudden turning of the tide, 
which would soon have hurried him from this land of promise, 
had not the discreet navigator given signal to steer for shore ; 
where they accordingly landed hard by the rocky heights of 
Bellevue — that happy retreat, where our jolly aldermen eat for 
the good of the city, and fatten the turtle that are sacrificed on 
civic solemnities. 

Here, seated on the green-sward, by the side of a small 
stream that ran sparkling among the grass, they refreshed them- 
selves after the toils of the seas, by feasting lustily on the ample 
stores which they had provided for this perilous voyage. Thus 
having well fortified their deliberative powers, they fell into an 
earnest consultation, what was farther to be done. This was the 
first council dinner ever eaten at Bellevue by Christian burghers, 
and here, as tradition relates, did originate the great family feud 
between the Hardenbroecks and the Tenbroecks, which after- 
wards had a singular influence on the building of the city. The 
sturdy Hardenbroeck, whose eyes had been wondrously delighted 
with the salt marshes which spread their reeking bosoms along 
the coast, at the bottom of Kip's Bay, counseled by all means to 
return thither, and found the intended city. This was strenuously 
opposed by the unbending Ten Broeck, and many testy arguments 
passed between them. The particulars of this controversy have 
not reached us, which is ever to be lamented ; this much is cer- 
tain, that the sage OlofFe put an end to the dispute, by determin- 
ing to explore still farther in the route which the mysterious 
porpoises had so clearly pointed out — whereupon the sturdy 
Tough Breeches abandoned the expedition, took possession of a 


neighboring hill, and in a fit of great wrath peopled all that tract 
of country, which has continued to be inhabited by the Harden- 
broecks unto this very day. 

By this time the jolly Phoebus, like some wanton urchin 
sporting on the side of a green hill, began to roll down the decli- 
vity of the heavens ; and now, the tide having once more turned 
in their favor, the Pavonians again committed themselves to 
its discretion, and coasting along the western shores, were borne 
towards the straits of Blackwell's Island. 

And here the capricious wanderings of the current occasioned 
not a little marvel and perplexity to these illustrious mariners. 
Now would they be caught by the wanton eddies, and, sweeping 
round a jutting point, would wind deep into some romantic little 
cove, that indented the fair island of Manna-hatta; now were 
they hurried narrowly by the very bases of impending rocks, 
mantled with the flaunting grape-vine, and crowned with groves 
which threw a broad shade on the waves beneath ; and anon they 
were borne away into the mid-channel and wafted along with a 
rapidity that very much discomposed the sage Van Kortlandt, 
who, as he saw the land swiftly receding on either side, began 
exceedingly to doubt that terra firma was giving them the slip. 

"Wherever the voyagers turned their eyes, a new creation 
seemed to bloom around. No signs of human thrift appeared to 
check the delicious wildness of nature, who here reveled in all 
her luxuriant variety. Those hills, now bristled, like the fretful 
porcupine, with rows of poplars, (vain upstart plants ! minions of 
wealth and fashion !) were then adorned with the vigorous na- 
tives of the soil ; the lordly oak, the generous chestnut, the grace- 
ful elm — while here and there the tulip-tree reared its majestic 
head, the giant of the forest. Where now are seen the gav 


retreats of luxury — villas half buried in twilight bowers, whence 
the amorous flute oft breathes the sighings of some city swain — ■ 
there the fish-hawk built his solitary nest, on some dry tree that 
overlooked his watery domain. The timid deer fed undisturbed 
along those shores now hallowed by the lover's moonlight walk, 
and printed by the slender foot of beauty ; and a savage solitude 
extended over those happy regions, where now are reared the 
stately towers of the Joneses, the Schermerhornes, and the Rhine- 

Thus gliding in silent wonder through these new and unknown 
scenes, the gallant squadron of Pavonia swept by the foot of a pro- 
montory, which strutted forth boldly into the waves, and seemed 
to frown upon them as they brawled against its base. This is 
the bluff well known to modern mariners by the name of Grade's 
point, from the fair castle which, like an elephant, it carries upon 
its back. And here broke upon their view a wild and varied 
prospect, where land and water were beauteously intermingled, as 
though they had combined to heighten and set off each other's 
charms. To their right lay the sedgy point of Blackwell's Island, 
drest in the fresh garniture of living green — beyond it stretched 
the pleasant coast of Sundswick, and the small harbor well known 
by the name of Hallet's Cove — a place infamous in latter days, 
by reason of its being the haunt of pirates who infest these seas, 
robbing orchards and watermelon patches, and insulting gentle- 
men navigators, when voyaging in their pleasure boats. To the 
left a deep bay, or rather creek, gracefully receded between 
shores fringed with forests, and forming a kind of vista, through 
which were beheld the silvan regions of Haerlem, Morrissania, 
and East Chester. Here the eye reposed with delight on a 
richly wooded country, diversified by tufted knolls, shadowy in- 


tervals, and waving lines of upland, swelling above each other ; 
while over the whole, the purple mists of spring diffused a hue 
of soft voluptuousness. 

Just before them the grand course of the stream, making a 
sudden bend, wound among embowered promontories and shores 
of emerald verdure, that seemed to melt into the wave. A char- 
acter of gentleness and mild fertility prevailed around. The sun 
had just descended, and the thin haze of twilight, like a transpa- 
rent veil drawn over the bosom of virgin beauty, heightened the 
charms which it half concealed. 

All ! witching scenes of foul delusion ! Ah ! hapless voy- 
agers, gazing with simple wonder on these Circean shores ! Such, 
alas ! are they, poor easy souls, who listen to the seductions of 
a wicked world — treacherous are its smiles ! fatal its caresses. 
He who yields to its enticements launches upon a whelming tide, 
and trusts his feeble bark among the dimpling eddies of a whirl- 
pool ! And thus it fared with the worthies of Pavonia, who, little 
mistrusting the guileful scene before them, drifted quietly on, 
until they were aroused by an uncommon tossing and agitation 
of their vessels. For now the late dimpling current began to 
brawl around them, and the waves to boil and foam with horrific 
fury. Awakened as if from a dream, the astonished OlofFe 
bawled aloud to put about, but his words were lost amid the 
roaring of the waters. And now ensued a scene of direful con- 
sternation. At one time they were borne with dreadful velocity 
among tumultuous breakers ; at another, hurried down boisterous 
rapids. Now they were nearly dashed upon the Hen and Chick- 
ens ; (infamous rocks ! — more voracious than Scylla and her 
whelps ;) and anon they seemed sinking into yawning gulfs, that 
threatened to entomb them beneath the waves. All the elements 


combined to produce a hideous confusion. The waters raged — ■ 
the winds howled — and as thej were hurried along, several of 
the astonished mariners beheld the rocks and trees of the neigh- 
boring shores driving through the air ! 

At length the mighty tub of Commodore Yan Kortlandt was 
drawn into the vortex of that tremendous whirlpool called the 
Pot, where it was whirled about in giddy mazes, until the senses 
of the good commander and his crew were overpowered by the 
horror of the scene, and the strangeness of the revolution. 

How the gallant squadron of Pavonia was snatched from the 
jaws of this modern Charybdis, has never been truly made known, 
for so many survived to tell the tale, and, what is still more won- 
derful, told it in so many different ways, that there has ever pre- 
vailed a great variety of opinions on the subject. 

As to the commodore and his crew, when they came to their 
senses they found themselves stranded on the Long Island shore. 
The worthy commodore, indeed, used to relate many and wonder- 
ful stories of his adventures in this time of peril ; how that he 
saw spectres flying in the air, and heard the yelling of hobgoblins, 
and put his hand into the pot when they were whirled round, and 
found the water scalding hot, and beheld several uncouth looking 
beings seated on rocks and skimming it with huge ladles — but par- 
ticularly he declared with great exultation, that he saw the losel 
porpoises, which had betrayed them into this peril, some broiling 
on the Gridiron and others hissing on the Frying-pan ! 

These, however, were considered by many as mere phanta- 
sies of the commodore, while he lay in a trance; especially as 
he was known to be given to dreaming ; and the truth of them 
has never been clearly ascertained. It is certain, however, 
that to the accounts of Oloflfe and his followers may be traced the 



various traditions handed down of this marveloas strait — as how 
the devil has been seen there, sitting astride of the Hog's Back 
and playing on the fiddle — how he broils fish there before a 
storm ; and many other stories, in which we must be cautious of 
putting too much faith. In consequence of all these terrific 
circumstances, the Pavonian commander gave this pass the name 
of Helle-gat) or as it has been interpreted, Hell- Gate ;* which it 
continues to bear at the present day. 

* This is a narrow strait in the Sound, at the distance of six miles above New- York. It 
is dangerous to shipping, unless under the care of skillful pilots, by reason of numerous 
rocks, shelves, and whirlpools. These have received sundry appellations, such as the Grid- 
iron, Frying-pan, Hog's Back, Pot, &c, and are very violent and turbulent at certain times 
of tide. Certain mealy-mouthed men, of squeamish consciences, who are loth to give the 
Devil his due, have softened the above characteristic name into Hurl-gate, forsooth ! Let 
those take care how they venture into the Gate, or they may be hurled into the Pot before 
they are aware of it. The name of this strait, as given by our author, is supported by the 
map in Vander Donck's history, published in 1636 — by Ogilvie's History of America, 1671 — 
as also by a journal still extant, written in the 16th century, and to be found in Hazard's State 
Papers. And an old MS. written in French, speaking of various alterations in names about 
this city, observes, "Be Helle-gat trou d'Enter, ils ont fait Hell-gate, Porte d'Enfer." 





The darkness of night had closed upon this disastrous day, and 
a doleful night was it to the shipwrecked Pavonians, whose ears 
were incessantly assailed with the raging of the elements, and the 
howling of the hobgoblins that infested this perfidious strait. But 
when the morning dawned, the horrors of the preceding evening 
had passed away, rapids, breakers, and whirlpools had disappeared, 
the stream again ran smooth and dimpling, and having changed 
its tide, rolled gently back, towards the quarter where lay their 
much-regretted home. 

The wo-begone heroes of Communipaw eyed each other with 
rueful countenances ; their squadron had been totally dispersed by 
the late disaster. Some were cast upon the western shore, where, 
headed by one Ruleff Hopper, they took possession of all the 
country lying about the six mile stone ; which is held by the Hop- 
pers at this present writing. 

The Waldrons were driven by stress of weather to a distant 
coast, where, having with them a jug of genuine Hollands, they 
were enabled to conciliate the savages, setting up a kind of 


tavern ; whence, it is said, did spring the fair town of Haer- 
lem, in which their descendants have ever since continued to be 
reputable publicans. As to the Suydams, they were thrown 
upon the Long Island coast, and may still be found in those 
parts. But the most singular luck attended the great Ten 
Broeck, who, falling overboard, was miraculously preserved from 
sinking by the multitude of his nether garments. Thus buoyed 
up, he floated on the waves like a merman, or like an angler's 
dobber, until he landed safely on a rock, where he was found the 
next morning busily drying his many breeches in the sunshine. 

I forbear to treat of the long consultation of Oloffe with his 
remaining followers, in which they determined that it would 
never do to found a city in so diabolical a neighborhood. Suffice 
it in simple brevity to say that they once more committed them- 
selves, with fear and trembling, to the briny element, and steered 
their course back again through the scenes of their yesterday's 
voyage, determined no longer to roam hi search of distant sites, 
but to settle themselves down in the marshy regions of Pavonia. 

Scarce, however, had they gained a distant view of Communi- 
paw when they were encountered by an obstinate eddy which 
opposed their homeward voyage. Weary and dispirited as they 
were, they yet tugged a feeble oar against the stream ; until, as 
if to settle the strife, half a score of potent billows rolled the tub 
of Commodore Van Kortlandt high and dry on the long point of 
an island which divided the bosom of the bay. 

Some pretend that these billows were sent by old Neptune to 
strand the expedition on a spot whereon was to be founded his 
strong-hold in this western world : others more pious, attribute 
every tiling to the guardianship of the good St. Nicholas ; and 
after events will be found to corroborate this opinion. Oloffe 


Van Kortlandt was a devout trencherman. Every repast was 
a kind of religious rite with him ; and his first thought on 
finding him once more on dry ground, was how he should 
contrive to celebrate his wonderful escape from Hell-gate and all 
its horrors by a solemn banquet. The stores which had been 
provided for the voyage by the good housewives of Communi- 
paw were nearly exhausted, but, in casting his eyes about, the 
commodore beheld that the shore abounded with oysters. A 
great store of these was instantly collected ; a fire was made at 
the foot of a tree; all hands fell to roasting and broiling and 
stewing and frying, and a sumptuous repast was soon set forth. 
This is thought to be the origin of those civic feasts with which, 
to the present day, all our public affairs are celebrated, and in 
which the oyster is ever sure to play an important part. 

On the present occasion the worthy Van Kortlandt was 
observed to be particularly zealous in his devotions to the 
trencher; for having the cares of the expedition especially 
committed to his care, he deemed it incumbent on him to eat 
profoundly for the public good. In proportion as he filled himself 
to the very brim with the dainty viands before him, did the 
heart of this excellent burgher rise up towards his throat, until 
he seemed crammed and almost choked with good eating and 
good nature. And at such times it is, when a man's heart is in his 
throat, that he may more truly be said to speak from it, and his 
speeches abound with kindness and good fellowship. Thus 
having swallowed the last possible morsel, and washed it down 
with a fervent potation, Oloffe felt his heart yearning, and his 
whole frame in a manner dilating with unbounded benevolence. 
Every thing around him seemed excellent and delightful ; and 
laying his hands on each side of his capacious periphery, and 


rolling his half closed eyes around on the beautiful diversity of 
land and water before him, he exclaimed, in a fat half smothered 
voice, " What a charming prospect !" The words died away in 
his throat — he seemed to ponder on the fair scene for a moment 
— his eyelids heavily closed over their orbs — his head drooped 
upon his bosom — he slowly sank upon the green turf, and a deep 
sleep stole gradually over him. 

And the sage Oloffe dreamed a dream — and lo, the good St. 
Nicholas came riding over the tops of the trees, in that self- 
same wagon wherein he brings his yearly presents to children, 
and he descended hard by where the heroes of Communipaw 
had made their late repast. And he lit his pipe by the fire, 
and sat himself down and smoked ; and as he smoked the 
smoke from his pipe ascended into the air and spread like a 
cloud overhead. And Oloffe bethought him, and he hastened 
and climbed up to the top of one of the tallest trees, and saw 
that the smoke spread over a great extent of country — and as he 
considered it more attentively, he fancied that th'j great volume 
of smoke assumed a variety of marvelous forms, where in dim 
obscurity he saw shadowed out palaces and domes and lofty 
spires, all of which lasted but a moment, and then faded away, 
until the whole rolled off, and nothing but the green woods were 
left. And when St. Nicholas had smoked his pipe, he twisted it 
in his hat-band, and laying his finger beside his nose, gave the 
astonished Van Kortlandt a very significant look, then mounting 
his wagon, he returned over the tree-tops and disappeared. 

And Van Kortlandt awoke from his sleep greatly instructed, 
and he aroused his companions, and related to them his dream, 
and interpreted it, that it was the will of St. Nicholas that they 
should settle down and build the city here. And that the smoke 


of the pipe was a type how vast would be the extent of the 
city ; inasmuch as the volumes of its smoke would spread over a 
wide extent of country. And they all with one voice assented 
to this interpretation excepting Mynheer Ten Broeck, who 
declared the meaning to be that it would be a city wherein a 
little fire would occasion a great smoke, or in other words, a very 
vaporing little city — both which interpretations have strangely 
come to pass ! 

The great object of their perilous expedition, therefore, being 
thus happily accomplished, the voyagers returned merrily to 
Communipaw, where they were received with great rejoicings. 
And here calling a general meeting of all the wise men and the 
dignitaries of Pavonia, they related the whole history of their 
voyage, and of the dream of Oloffe Van Kortlandt. And the 
people lifted up their voices and blessed the good St. Nicholas, 
and from that time forth the sage Van Kortlandt was held in 
more honor than ever, for his great talent at dreaming, and was 
pronounced a most useful citizen and a right good man—when 
he was asleep. 



The original name of the island whereon the squadron of Com- 
munipaw was thus propitiously thrown, is a matter of some 
dispute, and has already undergone considerable vitiation — a 
melancholy proof of the instability of all sublunary things, and 
the vanity of all our hopes of lasting fame ; for who can expect 
his name will live to posterity, when even the names of mighty 
islands are thus soon lost in contradiction and uncertainty ! 

The name most current at the present day, and which is like- 
wise countenanced by the great historian Vander Donck, is 
Manhattan; which is said to have originated in a custom 
among the squaws, in the early settlement, of wearing men's 
hats, as is still done among many tribes. " Hence," as we are 
told by an old governor who was somewhat of a wag, and 
flourished almost a century since, and had paid a visit to the wits 
of Philadelphia, "hence arose the appellation of man-hat-on, 
first given to the Indians, and afterwards to the island " — a stupid 
joke ! — but well enough for a governor. 

Among the more venerable sources of information on this sub- 


ject, is that valuable history of the American possessions, written 
by Master Richard Blome, in 1687, wherein it is called Manha- 
daes and Manahanent ; nor must I forget the excellent little book, 
full of precious matter, of that authentic historian, John Josselyn, 
Gent., who expressly calls it Manadaes. 

Another etymology still more ancient, and sanctioned by the 
countenance of our ever to be lamented Dutch ancestors, is that 
found in certain letters still exant ;* which passed between the 
early governors and their neighboring powers, wherein it is called 
indifferently Monhattoes — Munhatos, and Manhattoes, which are 
evidently unimportant variations of the same name ; for our wise 
forefathers set little store by those niceties either in orthography 
or orthoepy, which form the sole study and ambition of many 
learned men and women of this hypercritical age. This last 
name is said to be derived from the great Indian spirit Manetho ; 
who was supposed to make this island his favorite abode, on ac- 
count of its uncommon delights. For the Indian traditions affirm 
that the bay was once a translucid lake, filled with silver and 
golden fish, in the midst of which lay this beautiful island, covered 
with every variety of fruits and flowers ; but that the sudden ir- 
ruption of the Hudson laid waste these blissful scenes, and Mane- 
tho took his flight beyond the great waters of Ontario. 

These, however, are very fabulous legends, to which very 
cautious credence must be given ; and though I am willing to ad- 
mit the last quoted orthography of the name as very fit for prose, 
yet is there another which I peculiarly delight in, as at once poeti- 
cal, melodious, and significant — and which we have on the autho- 
rity of Master Juet ; who, in his account of the voyage of the 
great Hudson, calls this Manna-hata — that is to say, the island 

* Vide Hazard's Col. Stat. Pap. 


of manna — or, in other words, a land flowing with milk and 

Still my deference to the learned obliges me to notice the 
opinion of the worthy Dominie Heckwelder, which ascribes the 
name to a great drunken bout held on the island by the Dutch 
discoverers, whereat they made certain of the natives most extati- 
cally drunk for the first time in their lives ; who, oeing delighted 
with their jovial entertainment gave the place the name of Man- 
nahattanink ; that is to say, The Island of Jolly Topers : a name 
which it continues to merit to the present day.* 

* MSS. of the Rev. John Heckwelder, in the archives of the New- York 
Historical Society. 





It having been solemnly resolved that the seat of empire should 
be removed from the green shores of Pavonia to the pleasant 
island of Manna-hata, every body was anxious to embark under 
the standard of Oloffe the Dreamer, and to be among the first 
sharers of the promised land. A day was appointed for the 
grand migration, and on that day little Communipaw was in a 
buzz and a bustle like a hive in swarming time. Houses were 
turned inside out and stripped of the venerable furniture which 
had come from Holland ; all the community, great and small, 
black and white, man, woman, and child, was in commotion, form- 
ing lines from the houses to the water side, like lines of ants from 
an ant-hill ; every body laden with some article of household 
furniture ; while busy housewives plied backwards and forwards 
along the lines, helping every thing forward by the nimbleness of 
their tongues. 

By degrees a fleet of boats and canoes were piled up with 
all kinds of household articles : ponderous tables ; chests of 
drawers resplendent with brass ornaments ; quaint corner cup- 


boards ; beds and bedsteads ; with any quantity of pots, kettles, 
frying-pans, and Dutch ovens. In each boat embarked a whole 
family, from the robustious burgher down to the cats and dogs 
and little negroes. In this way they set off across the mouth 
of the Hudson, under the guidance of Oloffe the Dreamer, who 
hoisted his standard on the leading boat. 

This memorable migration took place on the first of May, 
and was long cited in tradition as the grand moving. The an- 
niversary of it was piously observed among the " sons of the pil- 
grims of Communipaw," by turning their houses topsy-turvy and 
carrying all the furniture through the streets, in emblem of the 
swarming of the parent hive ; and this is the real origin of the 
universal agitation and " moving " by which this most restless of 
cities is literally turned out of doors on every May day. 

As the little squadron from Communipaw drew near to the 
shores of Manna-hata, a sachem, at the head of a band of warri- 
ors, appeared to oppose their landing. Some of the most zealous 
of the pilgrims were for chastising this insolence with powder and 
ball, according to the approved mode of discoverers ; but the sage 
Oloffe gave them the significant sign of St. Nicholas, laying his 
finger beside his nose and winking hard with one eye ; where- 
upon his followers perceived that there was something sagacious 
in the wind. He now addressed the Indians in the blandest 
terms ; and made such tempting display of beads, hawks'-bells, 
and red blankets, that he was soon permitted to land, and a great 
land speculation ensued. And here let me give the true story of 
the original purchase of the site of this renowned city, about which 
so much has been said and written. Some affirm that the first 
cost was but sixty guilders. The learned Dominie Heck- 


welder records a tradition* that the Dutch discoverers bargained 
for only so much land as the hide of a bullock would cover ; but 
that they cut the hide in strips no thicker than a child's finger, 
so as to take in a large portion of land, and to take in the 
Indians into the bargain. This, however, is an old fable which 
the worthy Dominie may have borrowed from antiquity. The true 
version is, that OlofFe Van Kortlandt bargained for just so much 
land as a man could cover with his nether garments. The terms 
being concluded, he produced his friend Mynheer Tenbroeck, 
as the man whose breeches were to be used in measurement. 
The simple savages, whose ideas of a man's nether garments had 
never expanded beyond the dimensions of a breech clout, stared 
with astonishment and dismay as they beheld this bulbous-bot- 
tomed burgher peeled like an onion, and breeches after breeches 
spread forth over the land until they covered the actual site of 
this venerable city. 

This is the true history of the adroit bargain by which the 
island of Manhattan was bought for sixty guilders ; and in cor- 
roboration of it I will add, that Mynheer Ten Breeches, for his 
services on this memorable occasion, was elevated to the office 
of land measurer ; which he ever afterwards exercised in the 

* MSS. of the Rev. John Heckwelder ; New- York Historical Society. 



The land being thus fairly purchased of the Indians, a circum- 
stance very unusual in the history of colonization, and strongly 
illustrative of the honesty of our Dutch progenitors, a stockade 
fort and trading house were forthwith erected on an eminence in 
front of the place where the good St. Nicholas had appeared in 
a vision to Oloffe the Dreamer ; and which, as has already been 
observed, was the identical place at present known as the Bowling 

Around this fort a progeny of little Dutch-built houses, with 
tiled roofs and weathercocks, soon sprang up, nestling themselves 
under its walls for protection, as a brood of half-fledged chickens 
nestle under the wings of the mother hen. The whole was sur- 
rounded by an inclosure of strong palisadoes, to guard against any 
sudden irruption of the savages. Outside of these extended the 
corn-fields and cabbage-gardens of the community ; with here and 
there an attempt at a tobacco plantation ; all covering those tracts 
of country at present called Broadway Wall-street, William-street 
and Pearl-street. 


I must not omit to mention that in portioning out the land, a 
goodly "bowerie" or farm was allotted to the sage Oloffe in 
consideration of the service he had rendered to the public by 
his talent at dreaming ; and the site of his " bowerie " is known 
by the name of Kortlandt (or Courtlandt) street to the present 

And now the infant settlement having advanced in age and 
stature, it was thought high time it should receive an honest Chris- 
tian name. Hitherto it had gone by the original Indian name 
Manna-hata, or as some will have it, " The Manhattoes ;" but this 
was now decried as savage and heathenish, and as tending to 
keep up the memory of the pagan brood that originally pos- 
sessed it. Many were the consultations held upon the subject, 
without coming to a conclusion, for though every body condemned 
the old name, nobody could invent a new one. At length, when 
the council was almost in despair, a burgher, remarkable for the 
size and squareness of his head, proposed that they should call 
it New- Amsterdam. The proposition took every body by sur- 
prise ; it was so striking, so apposite, so ingenious. The name 
was adopted by acclamation, and New- Amsterdam the metropolis 
was thenceforth called. Still, however, the early authors of the 
province continued to call it by the general appellation of " The 
Manhattoes," and the poets fondly clung to the euphonious name 
of Manna-hata ; but those are a kind of folk whose tastes and no- 
tions should go for nothing in matters of this kind. 

Having thus provided the embryo city with a name, the next 
was to give it an armorial bearing or device, as some cities have 
a rampant lion, others a soaring eagle ; emblematical, no doubt, 
of the valiant and high-flying qualities of the inhabitants : so after 
mature deliberation a sleek beaver was emblazoned on the city 


standard as indicative of the amphibious origin, and patient, per- 
severing habits of the New-Amsterdammers. 

The thriving state of the settlement and the rapid increase of 
houses soon made it necessary to arrange some plan upon which 
the city should be built ; but at the very first consultation held on 
the subject, a violent discussion arose ; and I mention it with much 
sorrowing as being the first altercation on record in the councils 
of New- Amsterdam. It was, in fact, a breaking forth of the 
grudge and heart-burning that had existed between those two 
eminent burghers, Mynheers Tenbroeck and Hardenbroeck, evei 
since their unhappy dispute on the coast of Bellevue. The 
great Hardenbroeck had waxed very wealthy and powerful, from 
his domains, which embraced the whole chain of Apulean moun- 
tains that stretched along the gulf of Kip's Bay, and from part 
of which his descendants have been expelled in latter ages by the 
powerful clans of the Joneses and the Schermerhorns. 

An ingenious plan for the city was offered by Mynheer Harden- 
broeck, who proposed that it should be cut up and intersected by 
canals, after the manner of the most admired cities in Holland. 
To this Mynheer Tenbroeck was diametrically opposed, suggest- 
ing in place thereof, that they should run out docks and wharves, 
by means of piles driven into the bottom of the river, on which 
the town should be built. " By these means," said he, triumph- 
antly, " shall we rescue a considerable space of territory from 
these immense rivers, and build a city that shall rival Amster- 
dam, Venice, or any amphibious city in Europe." To this propo- 
sition, Hardenbroeck (or Tough Breeches) replied, with a look 
of as much scorn as he could possibly assume. He cast the ut- 
most censure upon the plan of his antagonist, as being preposte- 
rous, and against the very order of things, as he would leave to 


every true Hollander. " For what," said he, " is a town without 
canals ? — it is like a body without veins and arteries, and must 
perish for want of a free circulation of the vital fluid." — Ten 
Breeches, on the contrary, retorted with a sarcasm upon his antago- 
nist, who was somewhat of an arid, dry-boned habit ; he remarked, 
that as to the circulation of the blood being necessary to existence, 
Mynheer Tough Breeches was a living contradiction to his own 
assertion ; for every body knew there had not a drop of blood 
circulated through his wind-dried carcase for good ten years, 
and yet there was not a greater busy-body in the whole colony. 
Personalities have seldom much effect in making converts in argu- 
ment — nor have I ever seen a man convinced of error by being 
convicted of deformity. At least such was not the case at pre- 
sent. If Ten Breeches was very happy in sarcasm, Tough 
Breeches, who was a sturdy little man, and never gave up the 
last word, rejoined with increasing spirit — Ten Breeches had the 
advantage of the greatest volubility, but Tough Breeches had 
that invaluable coat of mail in argument called obstinacy — Ten 
Breeches had, therefore, the most mettle, but Tough Breeches 
the best bottom — so that though Ten Breeches made a dreadful 
clattering about his ears, and battered and belabored Tiim with 
hard words and sound arguments, yet Tough Breeches hung on 
most resolutely to the last. They parted, therefore, as is usual in 
all arguments where both parties are in the right, without coming 
to any conclusion — but they hated each other most heartily for 
ever after, and a similar breach with that between the houses of 
Capulet and Montague, did ensue between the families of Ten 
Breeches and Tough Breeches. 

I would not fatigue my reader with these dull matters of fact, 
but that my duty as a faithful historian, requires that I should be 


particular — and in truth, as I am now treating of the critical period, 
when our city, like a young twig, first received the twists and 
turns which have since contributed to give it its present picturesque 
irregularity, I cannot be too minute in detailing their first causes. 

After the unhappy altercation I have just mentioned, I do not 
find that any thing farther was said on the subject worthy of being 
recorded. The council, consisting of the largest and oldest heads 
in the community, met regularly once a week, to ponder on this 
momentous subject ; but, either they were deterred by the war of 
words they had witnessed, or they were naturally averse to the 
exercise of the tongue, and the consequent exercise of the brains 
— certain it is, the most profound silence was maintained — the 
question as usual lay on the table — the members quietly smoked 
their pipes, making but few laws, without ever enforcing any, and 
in the meantime the affairs of the settlement went on — as it 
pleased God. 

As most of the council were but little skilled in the mystery 
of combining pot-hooks and hangers, they determined most judi- 
ciously not to puzzle either themselves or posterity with volumi- 
nous records. The secretary, however, kept the minutes of the 
council with tolerable precision, in a large vellum folio, fastened 
with massy brass clasps ; the journal of each meeting consisted 
but of two lines, stating in Dutch, that " the council sat this day, 
and smoked twelve pipes, on the affairs of the colony." — By which 
it appears that the first settlers did not regulate their time by 
hours, but pipes, in the same manner as they measure distances 
in Holland at this very time ; an admirably exact measurement, 
as a pipe in the mouth of a true-born Dutchman is never liable to 
those accidents and irregularities that are continually putting our 
clocks out of order. 


In this manner did the profound council of New- Amsterdam 
smoke, and doze, and ponder, from week to week, month to month, 
and year to year, in what manner they should construct their in- 
fant settlement — meanwhile, the town took care of itself, and like 
a sturdy brat which is suffered to run about wild, unshackled by 
clouts and bandages, and other abominations by which your nota- 
ble nurses and sage old women cripple and disfigure the children 
of men, increased so rapidly in strength and magnitude, that be- 
fore the honest burgomasters had determined upon a plan, it was 
too late to put it in execution — whereupon they wisely abandoned 
the subject altogether. 



There is something exceedingly delusive in thus looking back, 
through the long vista of departed years, and catching a glimpse 
of the fairy realms of antiquity. Like a landscape melting 
into distance, they receive a thousand charms from their very 
obscurity, and the fancy delights to fill up their outlines with 
graces and excellences of its own creation. Thus loom on my 
imagination those happier days of our city, when as yet New- 
Amsterdam was a mere pastoral town, shrouded in groves of 
sycamores and willows, and surrounded by trackless forests and 
wide-spreading waters, that seemed to shut out all the cares and 
vanities of a wicked world. 

In those days did this embryo city present the rare and noble 
spectacle of a community governed without laws ; and thus being 
left to its own course, and the fostering care of Providence, 
increased as rapidly as though it had been burthened with a 
dozen panniers full of those sage laws usually heaped on the 
backs of young cities — in order to make them grow. And in this 



particular I greatly admire the wisdom and sound knowledge of 
human nature, displayed by the sage Oloffe the Dreamer and his 
fellow legislators. For my part, I have not so bad an opinion of 
mankind as many of my brother philosophers. I do not think 
poor human nature so sorry a piece of workmanship as they 
would make it out to be ; and as far as I have observed, I am 
fully satisfied that man, if left to himself, would about as readily 
go right as wrong. It is only this eternally sounding in his ears 
that it is his duty to go right, which makes him go the very reverse. 
The noble independence of his nature revolts at this intolerable 
tyranny of law, and the perpetual interference of officious mo- 
rality, which are ever besetting his path with finger-posts and 
directions to " keep to the right, as the law directs ;" and like a 
spirited urchin, he turns directly contrary, and gallops through 
mud and mire, over hedges and ditches, merely to show that he 
is a lad of spirit, and out of his leading-strings. And these opin- 
ions are amply substantiated by what I have above said of our 
worthy ancestors ; who never being be-preached and be-lectured, 
and guided and governed by statutes and laws and by-laws, as 
are their more enlightened descendants, did one and all demean 
themselves honestly and peaceably, out of pure ignorance, or in 
other words — because they knew no better. 

Nor must I omit to record one of the earliest measures of this 
infant settlement, inasmuch as it shows the piety of our fore- 
fathers, and that, like good Christians, they were always ready to 
serve God, after they had first served themselves. Thus, having 
quietly settled themselves down, and provided for their own com- 
fort, they bethought themselves of testifying their gratitude to the 
great and good St. Nicholas, for his protecting care, in guiding 
them to this delectable abode. To this end they built a fair and 


goodly chapel within the fort, which they consecrated to his 
name; whereupon he immediately took the town of New- Am- 
sterdam under his peculiar patronage, and he has ever since 
been, and I devoutly hope will ever be, the tutelar saint of this 
excellent city. 

At this early period was instituted that pious ceremony, still 
religiously observed in all our ancient families of the right breed, 
of hanging up a stocking in the chimney on St. Nicholas eve ; 
which stocking is always found in the morning miraculously 
filled ; for the good St. Nicholas has ever been a great giver of 
gifts, particularly to children. 

I am moreover told that there is a little legendary book, 
somewhere extant, written in Low Dutch, which says, that the 
image of this renowned saint, which whilom graced the bowsprit 
of the Goede Vrouw, was elevated in front of this chapel, in the 
centre of what, in modem days, is called the Bowling Green — on 
the very spot, in fact, where he appeared in vision to Oloffe the 
Dreamer. And the legend further treats of divers miracles 
wrought by the mighty pipe, which the saint held in his mouth ; 
a whiff of which was a sovereign cure for an indigestion — 
an invaluable relic in this colony of brave trenchermen. As, 
however, in spite of the most diligent search, I cannot lay my 
hands upon this little book, I must confess that I entertain con- 
siderable doubt on the subject. 

Thus benignly fostered by the good St. Nicholas, the infant 
city thrived apace. Hordes of painted savages, it is true, still 
lurked about the unsettled parts of the island. The hunter still 
pitched his bower of skins and bark beside the rills that ran 
through the cool and shady glens, while here and there might be 
seen on some sunny knoll, a group of Indian wigwams, whose 


smoke arose above the neighboring trees, and floated in the 
transparent atmosphere. A mutual good-will, however, existed 
between these wandering beings and the burghers of New- Am- 
sterdam. Our benevolent forefathers endeavored as much as 
possible to ameliorate their situation, by giving them gin, rum, 
and glass beads, in exchange for their peltries ; for it seems the 
kind-hearted Dutchmen had conceived a great friendship for their 
savage neighbors, on account of their being pleasant men to trade 
with, and little skilled in the art of making a bargain. 

Now and then a crew of these half human sons of the forest 
would make their appearance in the streets of New- Amsterdam, 
fantastically painted and decorated with beads and flaunting 
feathers, sauntering about with an air of listless indifference — 
sometimes in the market-place, instructing the little Dutch boys 
in the use of the bow and arrow — at other times, inflamed with 
liquor, swaggering and whooping and yelling about the town like 
so many fiends, to the great dismay of all the good wives, who 
would hurry their children into the house, fasten the doors, and 
throw water upon the enemy from the garret windows. It is 
worthy of mention here, that our forefathers were very particular 
in holding up these wild men as excellent domestic examples — 
and for reasons that may be gathered from the history of master 
Ogilby, who tells us, that " for the least offence the bridegroom 
soundly beats his wife and turns her out of doors, and marries 
another, insomuch that some of them have every year a new 
wife." Whether this awful example had any influence or not, 
history does not mention ; but it is certain that our grandmothers 
were miracles of fidelity and obedience. 

True it is, that the good understanding between our ancestors 
and their savage neighbors was liable to occasional interruptions, 


and I have heard my grandmother, who was a very wise old 
woman, and well versed in the history of these parts, tell a long 
story of a winter's evening, about a battle between the New-Am- 
sterdammers and the Indians, which was known by the name of 
the Peach War, and which took place near a peach orchard, in a 
dark glen, which for a long while went by the name of Murder- 
er's Valley. 

The legend of this sylvan war was long current among the 
nurses, old wives, and other ancient chroniclers of the place ; but 
time and improvement have almost obliterated both the tradition 
and the scene of battle ; for what was once the blood-stained val- 
ley is now in the centre of this populous city, and known by the 
name of Dey-street. 

I know not whether it was to this " Peach war," and the 
acquisitions of Indian land which may have grown out of it, that 
we may ascribe the first seeds of the spirit of " annexation " 
which now began to manifest themselves. Hitherto the ambition 
of the worthy burghers had been confined to the lovely island of 
Manna-hata ; and Spiten Devil on the Hudson, and Hell-gate on 
the Sound, were to them the pillars of Hercules, the neplus ultra 
of human enterprise. Shortly after the Peach war, however, a 
restless spirit was observed among the New-Amsterdammers, 
who began to cast wistful looks upon the wild lands of their 
Indian neighbors ; for somehow or other wild Indian land always 
looks greener in the eyes of settlers than the land they occupy. 
It is hinted that Oloffe the Dreamer encouraged these notions : 
having, as has been shown, the inherent spirit of a land specula- 
tor, which had been wonderfully quickened and expanded since 
he had become a land holder. Many of the common people, 
who had never before owned a foot of land, now began to be 


discontented with the town lots which had fallen to their shares ; 
others who had snug farms and tobacco plantations, found they 
had not sufficient elbow-room, and began to question the rights of 
the Indians to the vast regions they pretended to hold, — while 
the good Oloffe indulged in magnificent dreams of foreign con- 
quest and great patroonships in the wilderness. , 

The result of these dreams were certain exploring expeditions 
sent forth in various directions to " sow the seeds of empire," as 
it was said. The earliest of these were conducted by Hans 
Reinier Oothout, an old navigator famous for the sharpness of 
his vision, who could see land when it was quite out of sight to 
ordinary mortals, and who had a spy-glass covered with a bit 
of tarpauling, with which he could spy up the crookedest river, 
quite to its head waters. He was accompanied by Mynheer 
Ten Breeches, as land measurer, in case of any dispute with the 

What was the consequence of these exploring expeditions ? 
In a little while we find a frontier post or trading-house called 
Fort Nassau, established far to the south on Delaware River ; 
another called Fort Goed Hoep (or Good Hope), on the Varsche 
or Fresh, or Connecticut River ; and another called Fort Aurania 
(now Albany) away up the Hudson River ; while the boundaries 
of the province kept extending on every side, nobody knew 
whither, far into the regions of Terra Incognita. 

Of the boundary feuds and troubles which the ambitious little 
province brought upon itself by these indefinite expansions of 
its territory, we shall treat at large in the after pages of this 
eventful history ; sufficient for the present is it to say that the 
swelling importance of the New-Netherlands awakened the atten- 
tion of the mother country, who finding it likely to yield much 


revenue and no trouble, began to take that interest in its welfare 
which knowing people evince for rich relations. 

But as this opens a new era in the fortunes of New- Amster- 
dam, I will here put an end to this second book of my history, 
and will treat of the maternal policy of the mother country in 
my next. 









Grievous and very much to be commiserated is the task of the 
feeling historian, who writes the history of his native land. If 
it fall to his lot to be the recorder of calamity or crime, the 
mournful page is watered with his tears — nor can he recall the 
most prosperous and blissful era, without a melancholy sigh at 
the reflection, that it has passed away for ever ! I know not 
whether it be owing to an immoderate love for the simplicity of 
former times, or to that certain tenderness of heart incident to all 
sentimental historians ; but I candidly confess that I cannot look 
back on the happier days of our city, which I now describe, 
without great dejection of spirits. With faltering hand do I 
withdraw the curtain of oblivion, that veils the modest merit of 


our venerable ancestors, and as their figures rise to my mental 
vision, humble myself before their mighty shades. 

Such are my feelings when I revisit the family mansion of 
the Knickerbockers, and spend a lonely hour in the chamber 
where hang the portraits of my forefathers, shrouded in dust, like 
the forms they represent. With pious reverence do I gaze on 
the countenances of those renowned burghers, who have preceded 
me in the steady march of existence — whose sober and temperate 
blood now meanders through my veins, flowing slower and slower 
in its feeble conduits, until its current shall soon be stopped for 

These, I say to myself, are but frail memorials of the mighty 
men who flourished in the days of the patriarchs ; but who, alas, 
have long since mouldered in that tomb, towards which my steps 
are insensibly and irresistibly hastening ! As I pace the dark- 
ened chamber and lose myself in melancholy musings, the shad- 
owy images around me almost seem to steal once more into exist- 
ence — their countenances to assume the animation of life — their 
eyes to pursue me in every movement ! Carried away by the 
delusions of fancy, I almost imagine myself surrounded by the 
shades of the departed, and holding sweet converse with the 
worthies of antiquity ! Ah, hapless Diedrich ! born in a degen- 
erate age, abandoned to the buffetings of fortune — a stranger and 
a weary pilgrim in thy native land — blest with no weeping wife, 
nor family of helpless children ; but doomed to wander neglected 
through those crowded streets, and elbowed by foreign upstarts 
from those fair abodes where once thine ancestors held sovereign 
empire ! 

Let me not, however, lose the historian in the man, nor suffer 
the doting recollections of age to overcome me, while dwelling 


with fond garrulity on the virtuous days of the patriarchs — on 
those sweet days of simplicity and ease, which never more will 
dawn on the lovely island of Manna-hata. 

These melancholy reflections have been forced from me by 
the growing wealth and importance of New- Amsterdam, which, 
I plainly perceive, are to involve it in all kinds of perils and 
disasters. Already, as I observed at the close of my last book, 
they had awakened the attention of the mother country. The 
usual mark of protection shown by mother countries to wealthy 
colonies was forthwith manifested ; a governor being sent out to 
rule over the province and squeeze out of it as much revenue as 
possible. The arrival of a governor of course put an end to the 
protectorate of Oloffe the Dreamer. He appears, however, to 
have dreamt to some purpose during his sway, as we find him 
afterwards living as a patroon on a great landed estate on the 
banks of the Hudson ; having virtually forfeited all right to his 
ancient appellation of Kortlandt or Lackland. 

It was in the year of our Lord 1629 that Mynheer Wouter 
Van Twiller was appointed governor of the province of Nieuw- 
Nederlandts, under the commission and control of their High 
Mightinesses the Lords States General of the United Nether- 
lands, and the privileged West India Company. 

This renowned old gentleman arrived at New- Amsterdam in 
the merry month of June, the sweetest month in all the year ; 
when dan Apollo seems to dance up the transparent firmament — 
when the robin, the thrush, and a thousand other wanton song- 
sters make the woods to resound with amorous ditties, and the 
luxurious little boblincon revels among the clover blossoms of the 
meadows — all which happy coincidence persuaded the old dames 
of New- Amsterdam, who were skilled in the art of foretelling 


events, that this was to be a happy and prosperous adminis- 

The renowned Wouter (or Walter) Van Twiller, was de- 
scended from a long line of Dutch burgomasters, who had 
successively dozed away their lives, and grown fat upon the 
bench of magistracy in Eotterdam; and who had comported 
themselves with such singular wisdom and propriety, that they 
were never either heard or talked of — which, next to being 
universally applauded, should be the object of ambition of all 
magistrates and rulers. There are two opposite ways by which 
some men make a figure in the world ; one by talking faster than 
they think ; and the other by holding their tongues and not think- 
ing at all. By the first many a smatterer acquires the reputation 
of a man of quick parts ; by the other many a dunderpate, like 
the owl, the stupidest of birds, comes to be considered the very 
type of wisdom. This, by the way, is a casual remark, which I 
would not for the universe have it thought I apply to Governor 
Van Twiller. It is true he was a man shut up within himself, 
like an oyster, and rarely spoke except in monosyllables; but 
then it was allowed he seldom said a foolish thing. So invincible 
was his gravity that he was never known to laugh or even to 
smile through the whole course of a long and prosperous life. 
Nay if a joke were uttered in his presence, that set light-minded 
hearers in a roar, it was observed to throw him into a state of 
perplexity. Sometimes he would deign to inquire into the 
matter, and when, after much explanation, the joke was made as 
plain as a pike-staff; he would continue to smoke his pipe in 
silence, and at length, knocking out the ashes would exclaim, 
" Well ! I see nothing in all that to laugh about." 

With all his reflective habits, he never made up his mind on a 


subject. His adherents accounted for this by the astonishing 
magnitude of his ideas. He conceived every subject on so grand 
a scale that he had not room in his head to turn it over and exa- 
mine both sides of it. Certain it is that if any matter were pro- 
pounded to him on which ordinary mortals would rashly deter- 
mine at first glance, he would put on a vague, mysterious look ; 
shake his capacious head ; smoke some time in profound silence, 
and at length observe that " he had his doubts about the matter," 
which gained him the reputation of a man slow of belief, and not 
easily imposed upon. What is more, it gained him a lasting 
name : for to this habit of the mind has been attributed his sur- 
name of Twiller ; which is said to be a corruption of the original 
Twijfler, or, in plain English, Doubter. 

The person of this illustrious old gentleman was formed and 
proportioned, as though it had been moulded by the hands of some 
cunning Dutch statuary, as a model of majesty and lordly gran- 
deur. He was exactly five feet six inches in height, and six feet 
five inches in circumference. His head was a perfect sphere, and 
of such stupendous dimensions, that dame Nature with all her 
sex's ingenuity, would have been puzzled to construct a neck capa- 
ble of supporting it ; wherefore she wisely declined the attempt, 
and settled it firmly on the top of his back-bone, just between the 
shoulders. His body was oblong and particularly capacious at 
bottom ; which was wisely ordered by Providence, seeing that he 
was a man of sedentary habits, and very averse to the idle labor 
of walking. His legs were short, but sturdy in proportion to the 
weight they had to sustain ; so that when erect he had not a little 
the appearance of a beer barrel on skids. His face, that infalli- 
ble index of the mind, presented a vast expanse, unfurrowed by 
any of those lines and angles which disfigure the human counte- 


nance with what is termed expression. Two small gray eyes 
twinkled feebly in the midst, like two stars of lesser magnitude in 
a hazy firmament ; and his full-fed cheeks, which seemed to have 
taken toll of every thing that went into his mouth, were curiously 
mottled and streaked with dusky red, like a spitzenberg apple. 

His habits were as regular as his person. He daily took his 
four stated meals, appropriating exactly an hour to each ; he 
smoked and doubted eight hours, and he slept the remaining 
twelve of the four-and-twenty. Such was the renowned Wouter 
Van Twiller — a true philosopher, for his mind was either elevated 
above, or tranquilly settled below, the cares and perplexities of 
this world. He had lived in it for years, without feeling the 
least curiosity to know whether the sun revolved round it, or it 
round the sun ; and he had watched, for at least half a century, the 
smoke curling from his pipe to the ceiling, without once troubling 
his head with any of those numerous theories, by which a philoso- 
pher would have perplexed his brain, in accounting for its rising 
above the surrounding atmosphere. 

In his council he presided with great state and solemnity. 
He sat in a huge chair of solid oak, hewn in the celebrated forest 
of the Hague, fabricated by an experienced timmerman of Am- 
sterdam, and curiously carved about the arms and feet, into exact 
imitations of gigantic eagle's claws. Instead of a sceptre he 
swayed a long Turkish pipe, wrought with jasmin and amber, 
which had been presented to a stadtholder of Holland, at the con- 
clusion of a treaty with one of the petty Barbary powers. In 
this stately chair would he sit, and this magnificent pipe would he 
smoke, shaking his right knee with a constant motion, and fixing 
his eye for hours together upon a little print of Amsterdam, which 
hung in a black frame against the opposite wall of the council 


chamber. Nay, it has even been said, that when any deliberation 
of extraordinary length and intricacy was on the carpet, the re- 
nowned Wouter would shut Ins eyes for full two hours at a time, 
that he might not be disturbed by external objects — and at such 
times the internal commotion of his mind was evinced by certain 
regular guttural sounds, which his admirers declared were 
merely the noise of conflict, made by his contending doubts and 

It is with infinite difficulty I have been enabled to collect these 
biographical anecdotes of the great man under consideration. 
The facts respecting him were so scattered and vague, and divers 
of them so questionable in point of authenticity, that I have had to 
give up the search after many, and decline the admission of still 
more, which would have tended to heighten the coloring of his 

I have been the more anxious to delineate fully the person 
and habits of Wouter Van Twiller, from the consideration that 
he was not only the first, but also the best governor that ever 
presided over this ancient and respectable province ; and so tran- 
quil and benevolent was his reign, that I do not find throughout 
the whole of it, a single instance of any offender being brought to 
punishment — a most indubitable sign of a merciful governor, and 
a case unparalleled, excepting in the reign of the illustrious King 
Log, from whom, it is hinted, the renowned Van Twiller was a 
lineal descendant. 

The very outset of the career of this excellent magistrate 
was distinguished by an example of legal acumen, that gave flat- 
tering presage of a wise and equitable administration. The morn- 
ing after he had been installed in office, and at the moment that 
he was making his breakfast from a prodigious earthen dish, filled 


with milk and Indian pudding, he was interrupted by the appear- 
ance of Wandle Schoonhoven, a very important old burgher of 
New- Amsterdam, who complained bitterly of one Barent Bleecker, 
inasmuch as he refused to come to a settlement of accounts, seeing 
that there was a heavy balance in favor of the said Wandle. 
Governor Van Twiller, as I have already observed, was a man 
of few words ; he was likewise a mortal enemy to multiplying 
writings — or being disturbed at his breakfast. Having listened 
attentively to the statement of Wandle Schoonhoven, giving an 
occasional grunt, as he shoveled a spoonful of Indian pudding 
into his mouth — either as a sign that he relished the dish, or com- 
prehended the story — he called unto him his constable, and pulling 
out of his breeches pocket a huge jack-knife, dispatched it after 
the defendant as a summons, accompanied by his tobacco-box as a 

This summary process was as effectual in those simple days 
as was the seal ring of the great Haroun Alraschid among the 
true believers. The two parties being confronted before him, 
each produced a book of accounts, written in a language and 
character that would have puzzled any but a High Dutch com- 
mentator, or a learned decipherer of Egyptian obelisks. The 
sage Wouter took them one after the other, and having poised 
them in his hands, and attentively counted over the number of 
leaves, fell straightway into a very great doubt, and smoked for 
half an hour without saying a word ; at length, laying his finger 
beside his nose, and shutting his eyes for a moment, with the air 
of a man who has just caught a subtle idea by the tail, he slowly 
took his pipe from his mouth, puffed forth a column of tobacco 
smoke, and with marvellous gravity and solemnity pronounced 
— that having carefully counted over the leaves and weighed the 


books, it was found, that one was just as thick and as heavy as 
the other — therefore it was the final opinion of the court that the 
accounts were equally balanced — therefore Wandle should give 
Barent a receipt, and Barent should give Wandle a receipt — and 
the constable should pay the costs. 

This decision being straightway made known, diffused gene- 
ral joy throughout New- Amsterdam, for the people immediately 
perceived, that they had a very wise and equitable magistrate to 
rule over them. But its happiest effect was, that not another 
lawsuit took place throughout the whole of his administration — 
and the office of constable fell into such decay, that there was 
not one of those losel scouts known in the province for many 
years. I am the more particular in dwelling on this transaction, 
not only because I deem it one of the most sage and righteous 
judgments on record, and well worthy the attention of modern 
magistrates ; but because it was a miraculous event in the history 
of the renowned Wouter — being the only time he was ever 
known to come to a decision in the whole course of his life. 




In treating of the early governors of the province, I must 
caution my readers against confounding them, in point of dignity 
and power, with those worthy gentlemen, who are whimsically 
denominated governors in this enlightened republic — a set of un- 
happy victims of popularity, who are in fact the most dependent 
hen-pecked beings in the community : doomed to bear the secret 
goadings and corrections of their own party, and the sneers and 
revilings of the whole world beside. Set up, like geese at 
Christmas holidays, to be pelted and shot at by every whipster 
and vagabond in the land. On the contrary, the Dutch gover- 
nors enjoyed that uncontrolled authority, vested in all command- 
ers of distant colonies or territories. They were in a manner 
absolute despots in their little, domains, lording it, if so disposed, 
over both law and gospel, and accountable to none but the mo- 
ther country ; which it is well known is astonishingly deaf to all 
complaints against its governors, provided they discharge the 
main duty of their station — squeezing out a good revenue. This 


hint will be of importance, to prevent my readers from being 
seized with doubt and incredulity, whenever, in the course of 
this authentic history, they encounter the uncommon circum- 
stance of a governor acting with independence, and in opposition 
to the opinions of the multitude. 

To assist the doubtful Wouter in the arduous business of leg- 
islation, a board of magistrates was appointed, which presided 
immediately over the police. This potent body consisted of a 
schout or bailiff, with powers between those of the present may- 
or and sheriff — five burgermeesters, who were equivalent to al- 
dermen, and five schepens, who officiated as scrubs, subdevils, or 
bottle-holders to the burgermeesters, in the same manner as do 
assistant aldermen to their principals at the present day ; it be- 
ing their duty to fill the pipes of the lordly burgermeesters — 
hunt the markets for delicacies for corporation dinners, and to 
discharge such other little offices of kindness as were occasional- 
ly required. It was, moreover, tacitly understood, though not 
specifically enjoined, that they should consider themselves as 
butts for the blunt wits of the burgermeesters, and should laugh 
most heartily at all their jokes ; but this last was a duty as rare- 
ly called in action in those days as it is at present, and was 
shortly remitted, in consequence of the tragical death of a fat 
little schepen — who actually died of suffocation in an unsuccess- 
ful effort to force a laugh at one of burgermeester Van Zandt's 
best jokes. 

In return for these humble services, they were permitted to 
say yes and no at the council-board, and to have that enviable 
privilege, the run of the public kitchen — being graciously per- 
mitted to eat, and drink, and smoke, at all those snug junketings 
and public gormandizings, for which the ancient magistrates were 


equally famous with their modern successors. The post of sche- 
pen, therefore, like that of assistant alderman, was eagerly coveted 
by all your burghers of a certain description, who have a huge 
relish for good feeding, and an humble ambition to be great men 
in a small way — who thirst after a little brief authority, that shall 
render them the terror of the alms-house and the bridewell — 
that shall enable them to lord it over obsequious poverty, vagrant 
vice, outcast prostitution, and hunger-driven dishonesty — that 
shall give to their beck a hound-like pack of catchpolls and 
bumbailiffs — tenfold greater rogues than the culprits they hunt 
down ! — My readers will excuse this sudden warmth, which I 
confess is unbecoming of a grave historian — but I have a mortal 
antipathy to catchpolls, bumbailiffs, and little great men. 

The ancient magistrates of this city corresponded with those 
of the present time no less in form, magnitude, and intellect, than 
in prerogative and privilege. The burgomasters, like our alder- 
men, were generally chosen by weight — and not only the weight 
of the body, but likewise the weight of the head. It is a maxim 
practically observed in all honest, plain-thinking, regular cities, 
that an alderman should be fat — and the wisdom of this can be 
proved to a certainty. That the body is in some measure an 
image of the mind, or rather that the mind is moulded to the 
body, like melted lead to the clay in which it is cast, has been 
insisted on by many philosophers, who have made human nature 
their peculiar study — for as a learned gentleman of our own city 
observes, " there is a constant relation between the moral charac- 
ter of all intelligent creatures, and their physical constitution — 
between their habits and the structure of their bodies." Thus 
we see that a lean, spare, diminutive body is generally accompa- 
nied by a petulant, restless, meddling mind — either the mind 


wears down the body, by its continual motion ; or else the body, 
not affording the mind sufficient house-room, keeps it continually 
in a state of fretfulness, tossing and worrying about from the 
uneasiness of its situation. Whereas your round, sleek, fat, 
unwieldy periphery is ever attended by a mind like itself, tran- 
quil, torpid, and at ease ; and we may always observe, that your 
well fed, robustious burghers are in general very tenacious of 
their ease and comfort; being great enemies to noise, discord, 
and disturbance — and surely none are more likely to study the 
public tranquillity than those who are so careful of their own. 
Who ever hears of fat men heading a riot, or herding together 
in turbulent mobs ? — no — no — it is your lean, hungry men who 
are continually worrying society, and setting the whole commu- 
nity by the ears. 

The divine Plato, whose doctrines are not sufficiently attended 
to by philosophers of the present age, allows to every man three 
souls — one immortal and rational, seated in the brain, that it may 
overlook and regulate the body — a second consisting of the surly 
and irascible passions which, like belligerent powers, lie encamped 
around the heart — a third mortal and sensual, destitute of reason, 
gross and brutal in its propensities, and enchained in the belly, 
that it may not disturb the divine soul by its ravenous howlings. 
Now, according to this excellent theory, what can be more clear, 
than that your fat alderman is most likely to have the most regu- 
lar and well-conditioned mind. His head is like a huge spherical 
chamber, containing a prodigious mass of soft brains, whereon the 
rational soul lies softly and snugly couched, as on a feather bed ; 
and the eyes, which are the windows of the bed-chamber, are 
usually half closed, that its slumberings may not be disturbed by 
external objects. A mind thus comfortably lodged, and protected 


from disturbance, is manifestly most likely to perform its func- 
tions with regularity and ease. By dint of good feeding more- 
over, the mortal and malignant soul, which is confined in the 
belly, and which, by its raging and roaring, puts the irritable soul 
in the neighborhood of the heart in an intolerable passion, and 
thus renders men crusty and quarrelsome when hungry, is com- 
pletely pacified, silenced, and put to rest — whereupon a host of 
honest, good-fellow qualities and kind-hearted affections, which 
had lain perdue, slyly peeping out of the loop-holes of the heart, 
finding this cerberus asleep, do pluck up their spirits, turn out one 
and all in their holiday suits, and gambol up and down the dia- 
phragm — disposing their possessor to laughter, good humor, and 
a thousand friendly offices towards his fellow mortals. 

As a board of magistrates, formed on this principle, think but 
very little, they are the less likely to differ and wrangle about 
favorite opinions — and as they generally transact business upon 
a hearty dinner, they are naturally disposed to be lenient and 
indulgent in the administration of their duties. Charlemagne 
was conscious of this, and therefore ordered in his cartularies, 
that no judge should hold a court of justice, except in the morn- 
ing, on an empty stomach. — A pitiful rule, which I can never 
forgive, and which I warrant bore hard upon all the poor culprits 
in the kingdom. The more enlightened and humane generation 
of the present day have taken an opposite course, and have so 
managed, that the aldermen are the best fed men in the commu- 
nity ; feasting lustily on the fat things of the land, and gorging so 
heartily on oysters and turtles, that in process of time they 
acquire the activity of the one, and the form, the waddle, and the 
green fat of the other. The consequence is, as I have just said, 
these luxurious feastings do produce such a dulcet equanimity 


and repose of the soul, rational and irrational, that their transac- 
tions are proverbial for unvarying monotony — and the profound 
laws which they enact in their dozing moments, amid the labors 
of digestion, are quietly suffered to remain as dead letters, and 
never enforced, when awake. In a word, your fair, round-bellied 
burgomaster, like a full-fed mastiff, dozes quietly at the house- 
door, always at home, and always at hand to watch over its 
safety — but as to electing a lean, meddling candidate to the office, 
as has now and then been done, I would as lief put a greyhound 
to watch the house, or a race-horse to draw an ox wagon. 

The burgomasters then, as I have already mentioned, were 
wisely chosen by weight, and the schepens, or assistant aldermen, 
were appointed to attend upon them, and help them eat ; but the 
latter, in the course of time, when they had been fed and fattened 
into sufficient bulk of body and drowsiness of brain, became very 
eligible candidates for the burgomasters' chairs, having fairly 
eaten themselves into office, as a mouse eats his way into a com- 
fortable lodgment in a goodly, blue-nosed, skimmed milk, New- 
England cheese. 

Nothing could equal the profound deliberations that took place 
between the renowned Wouter, and these his worthy compeers, 
unless it be the sage divans of some of our modern corporations. 
They would sit for hours smoking and dozing over public affairs, 
without speaking a word to interrupt that perfect stillness, so neces- 
sary to deep reflection. Under the sober sway of Wouter Van Twil- 
ler and these his worthy coadjutors, the infant settlement waxed 
vigorous apace, gradually emerging from the swamps and forests, 
and exhibiting that mingled appearance of town and country, cus<- 
tomary in new cities, and which at this day may be witnessed in 


the city of Washington ; that immense metropolis, which makes 
so glorious an appearance on paper. 

It was a pleasing sight in those times, to behold the honest 
burgher, like a patriarch of yore, seated on the bench at the door 
of his whitewashed house, under the shade of some gigantic syca- 
more or overhanging willow. Here would he smoke his pipe of 
a sultry afternoon, enjoying the soft southern breeze, and listening 
with silent gratulation to the clucking of his hens, the cackling of 
his geese, and the sonorous grunting of his swine ; that combina- 
tion of farm-yard melody, which may truly be said to have a silver 
sound, inasmuch as it conveys a certain assurance of profitable 

The modern spectator, who wanders through the streets of 
this populous city, can scarcely form an idea of the different ap- 
pearance they presented in the primitive days of the Doubter. 
The busy hum of multitudes, the shouts of revelry, the rumbling 
equipages of fashion, the rattling of accursed carts, and all the 
spirit-grieving sounds of brawling commerce, were unknown in 
the settlement of New- Amsterdam. The grass grew quietly in the 
highways — the bleating sheep and frolicksome calves sported 
about the verdant ridge, where now the Broadway loungers take 
their morning stroll — the cunning fox or ravenous wolf skulked 
in the woods, where now are to be seen the dens of Gomez and 
his righteous fraternity of money-brokers — and flocks of vocifer- 
ous geese cackled about the fields, where now the great Tammany 
wigwam and the patriotic tavern of Martling echo with the wrang- 
lings of the mob. 

In these good times did a true and enviable equality of rank 
and property prevail, equally removed from the arrogance of 


wealth, and the servility and heart-burnings of repining poverty 
— and what in my mind is still more conducive to tranquillity and 
harmony among friends, a happy equality of intellect was like- 
wise to be seen. The minds of the good burghers of New- Am- 
sterdam seemed all to have been cast in one mould, and to be those 
honest, blunt minds, which, like certain manufactures, are made 
by the gross, and considered as exceedingly good for common use. 

Thus it happens that your true dull minds are generally pre- 
ferred for public employ, and especially promoted to city honors ; 
your keen intellects, like razors, being considered too sharp for 
common service. I know that it is common to rail at the unequal 
distribution of riches, as the great source of jealousies, broils, 
and heart-breakings ; whereas, for my part, I verily believe it is the 
sad inequality of intellect that prevails, that embroils communities 
more than any thing else ; and I have remarked that your know- 
ing people, who are so much wiser than any body else, are eter- 
nally keeping society in a ferment. Happily for New- Amster- 
dam, nothing of the kind was known within its walls — the very 
words of learning, education, taste, and talents were unheard of 
— a bright genius was an animal unknown, and a blue stocking 
lady would have been regarded with as much wonder as a horned 
frog or a fiery dragon. No man in fact seemed to know more 
than his neighbor, nor any man to know more than an honest man 
ought to know, who has nobody's business to mind but his own ; 
the parson and the council clerk were the only men that could 
read in the community, and the sage Van Twiller always signed 
his name with a cross. 

Thrice happy and ever to be envied little Burgh ! existing in 
all the security of harmless insignificance — unnoticed and unen- 
vied by the world, without ambition, without vainglory, without 



riches, without learning, and all their train of carking cares — and 
as of yore, in the better days of man, the deities were wont to 
visit him on earth and bless his rural habitations, so we are told, 
in the sylvan days of New- Amsterdam, the good St. Nicholas 
would often make his appearance in his beloved city, of a holiday 
afternoon, riding jollily among the tree-tops, or over the roofs of 
the houses, now and then drawing forth magnificent presents from 
his breeches pockets, and dropping them down the chimneys of 
his favorites. Whereas in these degenerate days of iron and brass 
he never shows us the light of his countenance, nor ever visits us, 
save one night in the year ; when he rattles down the chimneys 
of the descendants of the patriarchs, confining his presents merely 
to the children, in token of the degeneracy of the parents. 

Such are the comfortable and thriving effects of a fat govern- 
ment. The province of the New-Netherlands, destitute of wealth, 
possessed a sweet tranquillity that wealth could never purchase. 
There were neither public commotions, nor private quarrels ; nei- 
ther parties, nor sects, nor schisms ; neither persecutions, nor 
trials, nor punishments; nor were there counsellors, attorneys, 
catchpolls, or hangmen. Every man attended to what little busi- 
ness he was lucky enough to have, or neglected it if he pleased, 
without asking the opinion of his neighbor. In those days no- 
body meddled with concerns above his comprehension ; nor thrust 
his nose into other people's affairs ; nor neglected to correct his 
own conduct, and reform his own character, in his zeal to pull to 
pieces the characters of others — but in a word, every respectable 
citizen eat when he was not hungry, drank when he was not 
thirsty, and went regularly to bed when the sun set and the fowls 
went to roost, whether he were sleepy or not ; all which tended 
so remarkably to the population of the settlement, that I am told 


every dutiful wife throughout New- Amsterdam made a point of 
enriching her husband with at least one child a year, and very 
often a brace — this superabundance of good things clearly consti- 
tuting the true luxury of life, according to the favorite Dutch 
maxim, that "more than enough constitutes a feast." Every 
thing, therefore, went on exactly as it should do, and in the usual 
words employed by historians to express the welfare of a country, 
" the profoundest tranquillity and repose reigned throughout the 





Manifold are the tastes and dispositions of the enlightened lite- 
rati, who turn over the pages of history. Some there be whose 
hearts are brimful of the yeast of courage, and whose bosoms do 
work, and swell, and foam, with untried valor, like a barrel of 
new cider, or a train-band captain, fresh from under the hands 
of his tailor. This doughty class of readers can be satisfied with 
nothing but bloody battles, and horrible encounters ; they must 
be continually storming forts, sacking cities, springing mines, 
marching up to the muzzles of cannon, charging bayonet through 
every page, and reveling in gunpowder and carnage. Others, 
who are of a less martial, but equally ardent imagination, and 
who, withal, are a little given to the marvelous, will dwell with 
wondrous satisfaction on descriptions of prodigies, unheard-of 
events, hair-breadth escapes, hardy adventures, and all those as- 
tonishing narrations, which just amble along the boundary line of 
possibility. A third class, who, not to speak slightly of them, are 
of a lighter turn, and skim over the records of past times, as they 


do over the edifying pages of a novel, merely for relaxation and 
innocent amusement, do singularly delight in treasons, executions, 
Sabine rapes, Tarquin outrages, conflagrations, murders, and all 
the other catalogue of hideous crimes, which like cayenne in cook- 
ery, do give a pungency and flavor to the dull detail of history — 
while a fourth class, of more philosophic habits, do diligently pore 
over the musty chronicles of time, to investigate the operations 
of the human kind, and watch the gradual changes in men and 
manners, effected by the progress of knowledge, the vicissitudes 
of events, or the influence of situation. 

If the three first classes find but little wherewithal to solace 
themselves in the tranquil reign of Wouter Van Twiller, I entreat 
them to exert their patience for a while, and bear with the tedi- 
ous picture of happiness, prosperity, and peace, which my duty 
as a faithful historian obliges me to draw ; and I promise them 
that as soon as I can possibly alight upon any thing horrible, 
uncommon, or impossible, it shall go hard but I will make it 
afford them entertainment. This being premised, I turn with 
great complacency to the fourth class of my readers, who are 
men, or, if possible, women after my own heart ; grave, phi- 
losophical, and investigating; fond of analyzing characters, of 
taking a start from first causes, and so hunting a nation down, 
through all the mazes of innovation and improvement. Such 
will naturally be anxious to witness the first development of the 
newly hatched colony, and the primitive manners and customs 
prevalent among its inhabitants, during the halcyon reign of 
Van Twiller or the Doubter. 

I will not grieve their patience, however, by describing 
minutely the increase and improvement of New- Amsterdam. 
Their own imaginations will doubtless present to them the good 


burghers, like so many painstaking and persevering beavers, 
slowly and surely pursuing their labors — they will behold the 
prosperous transformation from the rude log hut to the stately 
Dutch mansion, with brick front, glazed windows, and tiled 
roof; from the tangled thicket to the luxuriant cabbage garden; 
and from the skulking Indian to the ponderous burgomaster. In 
a word, they will picture to themselves the steady, silent, and 
undeviating march of prosperity, incident to a city destitute of 
pride or ambition, cherished by a fat government, and whose 
citizens do nothing in a hurry. 

The sage council, as has been mentioned in a preceding chap- 
ter, not being able to determine upon any plan for the building 
of their city — the cows, in a laudable fit of patriotism, took il 
under their peculiar charge, and as they went to and from pas- 
ture, established paths through the bushes, on each side of which 
the good folks built their houses ; which is one cause of the ram- 
bling and picturesque turns and labyrinths, which distinguish 
certain streets of New- York at this very day. 

The houses of the higher class were generally constructed of 
wood, excepting the gable end, which was of small black and 
yellow Dutch bricks, and always faced on the street, as our 
ancestors, like their descendants, were very much given to out- 
ward show, and were noted for putting the best leg foremost. 
The house was always furnished with abundance of large doors 
and small windows on every floor, the date of its erection was 
curiously designated by iron figures on the front, and on the top 
of the roof was perched a fierce little weathercock, to let the 
family into the important secret, which way the wind blew. 
These, like the weathercocks on the tops of our steeples, pointed 
so many different ways, that every man could have a wind to his 


mind ; — the most stanch and loyal citizens, however, always went 
according to the weathercock on the top of the governor's house, 
which was certainly the most correct, as he had a trusty servant 
employed every morning to climb up and set it to the right 

In those good days of simplicity and sunshine, a passion for 
cleanliness was the leading principle in domestic economy, and 
the universal test of an able housewife — a character which formed 
the utmost ambition of our unenlightened grandmothers. The 
front door was never opened except on marriages, funerals, new 
year's days, the festival of St. Nicholas, or some such great occa- 
sion. It was ornamented with a gorgeous brass knocker, curi- 
ously wrought, sometimes in the device of a dog, and sometimes 
of a lion's head, and was daily burnished with such religious zeal, 
that it was ofttimes worn out by the very precautions taken for 
its preservation. The whole house was constantly in a state of 
inundation, under the discipline of mops and brooms and scrub- 
bing brushes ; and the good housewives of those days were a kind 
of amphibious animal, delighting exceedingly to be dabbling in 
water — insomuch that an historian of the day gravely tells us, 
that many of his townswomen grew to have webbed fingers like 
unto a duck ; and some of them, he had little doubt, could the 
matter be examined into, would be found to have the tails of 
mermaids — but this I look upon to be a mere sport of fancy, or 
what is a worse, a wilful misrepresentation. 

The grand parlor was the sanctum sanctorum, where the 
passion for cleaning was indulged without control. In this sacred 
apartment no one was permitted to enter, excepting the mistress 
and her confidential maid, who visited it once a week, for the 
purpose of giving it a thorough cleaning, and putting things to 


rights — always taking the precaution of leaving their shoes at 
the door, and entering devoutly on their stocking feet. After 
scrubbing the floor, sprinkling it with fine white sand, which was 
curiously stroked into angles, and curves, and rhomboids with a 
broom — after washing the windows, rubbing and polishing the 
furniture, and putting a new bunch of evergreens in the fire- 
place — the window shutters were again closed to keep out the 
flies, and the room carefully locked up until the revolution of 
time brought round the weekly cleaning day. 

As to the family, they always entered in at the gate, and most 
generally lived in the kitchen. To have seen a numerous house- 
hold assembled round the fire, one would have imagined that he 
was transported back to those happy days of primeval simplicity, 
which float before our imaginations like golden visions. The 
fireplaces were of a truly patriarchal magnitude, where the 
whole family, old and young, master and servant, black and 
white, nay, even the very cat and dog, enjoyed a community of 
privilege, and had each a right to a corner. Here the old 
burgher would sit in perfect silence, puffing his pipe, looking in 
the fire with half shut eyes, and thinking of nothing for hours 
together ; the goede vrouw on the opposite side would employ 
herself diligently in spinning yarn, or knitting stockings. The 
young folks would crowd around the hearth, listening with breath- 
less attention to some old crone of a negro, who was the oracle 
of the family, and who, perched like a raven in a corner of the 
chimney, would croak forth for a long winter afternoon a string 
of incredible stories about New England witches — grisly ghosts, 
horses without heads — and hair-breadth escapes and bloody en- 
counters among the Indians. 

In those happy days a well regulated family always rose with 


the dawn, dined at eleven, and went to bed at sunset. Dinner 
was invariably a private meal, and the fat old burghers showed 
incontestable signs of disapprobation and uneasiness at being sur- 
prised by a visit from a neighbor on such occasions. But though 
our worthy ancestors were thus singularly averse to giving din- 
ners, yet they kept up the social bands of intimacy by occasional 
banquetings, called tea-parties. 

These fashionable parties were generally confined to the 
higher classes, or noblesse, that is to say, such as kept their own 
cows, and drove their own wagons. The company commonly 
assembled at three o'clock, and went away about six, unless it 
was in winter time, when the fashionable hours were a little 
earlier, that the ladies might get home before dark. The tea- 
table was crowned with a huge earthen dish, well stored with 
slices of fat pork, fried brown, cut up into morsels, and swimming 
in gravy. The company being seated round the genial board, 
and each furnished with a fork, evinced their dexterity in launch- 
ing at the fattest pieces in tins mighty dish — in much the same 
manner as sailors harpoon porpoises at sea, or our Indians spear 
salmon in the lakes. Sometimes the table was graced with im- 
mense apple pies, or saucers full of preserved peaches and pears ; 
but it was always sure to boast an enormous dish of balls of sweet- 
ened dough, fried in hog's fat, and called doughnuts, or olykoeks 
— a delicious kind of cake, at present scarce known in this city, 
except in genuine Dutch families. 

The tea was served out of a majestic delft tea-pot, ornamented 
with paintings of fat little Dutch shepherds and shepherdesses 
tending pigs — with boats sailing in the air, and houses built in the 
clouds, and sundry other ingenious Dutch fantasies. The beaux 
distinguished themselves by their adroitness in replenishing this 


pot from a huge copper tea-kettle, which would have made the 
pigmy macaronies of these degenerate days sweat merely to look 
at it. To sweeten the beverage, a lump of sugar was laid beside 
each cup — and the company alternately nibbled and sipped with 
great decorum, until an improvement was introduced by a shrewd 
and economic old lady, which was to suspend a large lump directly 
over the tea-table, by a string from the ceiling, so that it could be 
swung from mouth to mouth — an ingenious expedient, which is 
still kept up by some families in Albany ; but which prevails with- 
out exception in Communipaw, Bergen, Flatbush, and all our 
uncontaminated Dutch villages. 

At these primitive tea-parties the utmost propriety and dig- 
nity of deportment prevailed. No flirting nor coqueting — no 
gambling of old ladies nor hoyden chattering and romping of 
young ones — no self-satisfied struttings of wealthy gentlemen, with 
their brains in their pockets — nor amusing conceits, and monkey 
divertisements, of smart young gentlemen, with no brains at all. 
On the contrary, the young ladies seated themselves demurely in 
their rush-bottomed chairs, and knit their own woolen stockings ; 
nor ever opened their lips excepting to say yah Mynheer, or yah ya 
Vronw, to any question that was asked them ; behaving, in all 
things, like decent, well-educated damsels. As to the gentlemen, 
each of them tranquilly smoked his pipe, and seemed lost in con- 
templation of the blue and white tiles with which the fireplaces 
were decorated ; wherein sundry passages of Scripture were 
piously portrayed — Tobit and his dog figured to great advantage ; 
Haman swung conspicuously on his gibbet, and Jonah appeared 
most manfully bouncing out of the whale, like Harlequin through a 
barrel of fire. 

The parties broke up without noise and without confusion. 



They were carried home by their own carriages, that is to say, 
by the vehicles nature had provided them, excepting such of the 
wealthy as could afford to keep a wagon. The gentlemen gal- 
lantly attended their fair ones to their respective abodes, and took 
leave of them with a hearty smack at the door : which, as it was 
an established piece of etiquette, done in perfect simplicity and 
honesty of heart, occasioned no scandal at that time, nor should it 
at the present — if our great-grandfathers approved of the custom, 
it would argue a great want of reverence in their descendants to 
say a word against it. 



In this dulcet period of my history, when the beauteous island of 
Manna-hata presented a scene, the very counterpart of those 
glowing pictures drawn of the golden reign of Saturn, there was, 
as I have before observed, a happy ignorance, an honest simplicity 
prevalent among its inhabitants, which, were I even able to de- 
pict, would be but little understood by the degenerate age for 
which I am doomed to write. Even the female sex, those arch 
innovators upon the tranquillity, the honesty, and gray-beard cus- 
toms of society, seemed for a while to conduct themselves with 
incredible sobriety and comeliness. 

Their hair, untortured by the abominations of art, was scrupu- 
lously pomatumed back from their foreheads with a candle, and 
covered with a little cap of quilted calico, winch fitted exactly to 
their heads. Their petticoats of linsey-woolsey were striped with 
a variety of gorgeous dyes — though I must confess these gallant 
garments were rather short, scarce reaching below the knee ; but 
then they made up in the number, which generally equaled that 
of the gentlemen's small clothes ; and what is still more praise- 


worthy, they were all of their own manufacture — of which circum- 
stance, as may well be supposed, they were not a little vain. 

These were the honest days, in which every woman staid at 
home, read the Bible, and wore pockets — ay, and that too of a 
goodly size, fashioned with patchwork into many curious devices, 
and ostentatiously worn on the outside. These, in fact, were con- 
venient receptacles, where all good housewives carefully stored 
away such things as they wished to have at hand ; by which means 
they often came to be incredibly crammed — and I remember there 
was a story current when I was a boy, that the lady of Wouter 
Van Twiller once had occasion to empty her right pocket in search 
of a wooden ladle, when the contents filled a couple of corn bas- 
kets, and the utensil was discovered lying among some rubbish in 
one corner — but we must not give too much faith to all these 
stories ; the anecdotes of those remote periods being very subject 
to exaggeration. 

Besides these notable pockets, they likewise wore scissors and 
pincushions suspended from their girdles by red ribands, or among 
the more opulent and showy classes, by brass, and even silver 
chains — indubitable tokens of thrifty housewives and industrious 
spinsters. I cannot say much in vindication of the shortness of 
the petticoats ; it doubtless was introduced for the purpose of giving 
the stockings a chance to be seen, which were generally of blue 
worsted with magnificent red clocks — or perhaps to display a 
well-turned ankle, and a neat, though serviceable foot, set off by 
a high-heeled leathern shoe, with a large and splendid silver 
buckle. Thus we find that the gentle sex in all ages have shown 
the same disposition to infringe a little upon the laws of decorum, 
in order to betray a lurking beauty, or gratify an innocent love 
of finery. 


From the sketch here given, it will be seen that our good 
grandmothers differed considerably in their ideas of a fine figure 
from their scantily dressed descendants of the present day. A 
fine lady, in those times, waddled under more clothes, even on a fair 
summer's day, than would have clad the whole bevy of a modern 
ball-room. Nor were they the less admired by the gentlemen in 
consequence thereof. On the contrary, the greatness of a lover's 
passion seemed to increase in proportion to the magnitude of its 
object — and a voluminous damsel, arrayed in a dozen of petticoats, 
was declared by a Low Dutch sonneteer of the province to be 
radiant as a sunflower, and luxuriant as a full-blown cabbage. 
Certain it is, that in those days the heart of a lover could not con- 
tain more than one lady at a time ; whereas the heart of a modern 
gallant has often room enough to accommodate half a dozen. 
The reason of which I conclude to be, that either the hearts of the 
gentlemen have grown larger, or the persons of the ladies smaller 
— this, however, is a question for physiologists to determine. 

But there was a secret charm in these petticoats, which, no 
doubt, entered into the consideration of the prudent gallants. The 
wardrobe of a lady was in those days her only fortune ; and she 
who had a good stock of petticoats and stockings, was as abso- 
lutely an heiress as is a Kamschatka damsel with a store of bear 
skins, or a Lapland belle with a plenty of reindeer. The ladies, 
therefore, were very anxious to display these powerful attractions 
to the greatest advantage ; and the best rooms in the house, in- 
stead of being adorned with caricatures of dame Nature, in water- 
colors and needle-work, were always hung round with abundance 
of homespun garments, the manufacture and the property of the fe- 
males — a piece of laudable ostentation that still prevails among 
the heiresses of our Dutch villages. 


The gentlemen, in fact, who figured in the circles of the gay 
world in these ancient times, corresponded, in most particulars, 
with the beauteous damsels whose smiles they were ambitious to 
deserve. True it is, their merits would make tut a very inconsi- 
derable impression upon the heart of a modern fair ; they neither 
drove their curricles nor sported their tandems, for as yet those 
gaudy vehicles were not even dreamt of — neither did they distinguish 
themselves by their brilliancy at the table, and their consequent 
rencontres with watchmen, for our forefathers were of too pacific 
a disposition to need those guardians of the night, every soul 
throughout the town being sound asleep before nine o'clock. 
Neither did they establish their claims to gentility at the expense 
of their tailors — for as yet those offenders against the pockets of 
society, and the tranquillity of all aspiring young gentlemen, were 
unknown in New- Amsterdam ; every good housewife made the 
clothes of her husband and family, and even the goede vrouw of 
Van Twiller himself thought it no disparagement to cut out her 
husband's linsey-woolsey galligaskins. 

Not but what there were some two or three youngsters who 
manifested the first dawning of what is called fire and spirit ; who 
held all labor in contempt ; skulked about docks and market pla- 
ces ; loitered in the sunshine ; squandered what little money they 
could procure at hustle-cap and chuck-farthing ; swore, boxed, 
fought cocks, and raced their neighbor's horses — in short, who 
promised to be the wonder, the talk, and abomination of the 
town, had not their stylish career been unfortunately cut short by 
an affair of honor with a whipping-post. 

Far other, however, was the truly fashionable gentleman of 
those days — his dress, which served for both morning and eve- 
ning, street and drawing-room, was a linsey-woolsey coat, made, 


perhaps, by the fair hands of the mistress of his affections, and 
gallantly bedecked with abundance of large brass buttons — half 
a score of breeches heightened the proportions of his figure* — his 
shoes were decorated by enormous copper buckles — a low-crowned 
broad-brimmed hat overshadowed his burly visage, and his hair 
dangled down his back in a prodigious queue of eelskin. 

Thus equipped, he would manfully sally forth with pipe in 
mouth to besiege some fair damsel's obdurate heart — not such a 
pipe, good reader, as that which Acis did sweetly tune in praise 
of his Galatea, but one of true Delft manufacture, and furnished 
with a charge of fragrant tobacco. With this would he reso- 
lutely set himself down before the fortress, and rarely failed, in 
the process of time, to smoke the fair enemy into a surrender, 
upon honorable terms. 

Such was the happy reign of Wouter Van Twiller, celebrated 
in many a long forgotten song as the real golden age, the rest 
being nothing but counterfeit copper-washed coin. In that de- 
lightful period, a sweet and holy calm reigned over the whole 
province. The burgomaster smoked his pipe in peace— the sub- 
stantial solace of his domestic cares, after her daily toils were 
done, sat soberly at the door, with her arms crossed over her 
apron of snowy white, without being insulted by ribald street- 
walkers or vagabond boys — those unlucky urchins, who do so 
infest our streets, displaying under the roses of youth the thorns 
and briers of iniquity. Then it was that the lover with ten 
breeches, and the damsel with petticoats of half a score, indulged 
in all the innocent endearments of virtuous love without fear and 
without reproach ; for what had that virtue to fear, which was 
defended by a shield of good linsey-woolseys, equal at least to the 
seven bull-hides of the invincible Ajax ? 


Ah blissful, and never to be forgotten age ! when every thing 
was better than it has ever been since, or ever will be again — 
when Buttermilk Channel was quite dry at low water — when the 
shad in the Hudson were all salmon, and when the moon shone 
with a pure and resplendent whiteness, instead of that melancholy 
yellow light which is the consequence of her sickening at the 
abominations she every night witnesses in this degenerate city ! 

Happy would it have been for New-Amsterdam could it 
always have existed in this state of blissful ignorance and lowly 
simplicity, but alas ! the days of childhood are too sweet to last ! 
Cities, like men, grow out of them in time, and are doomed alike 
to grow into the bustle, the cares, and miseries of the world. Let 
no man congratulate himself, when he beholds the child of his 
bosom or the city of his birth increasing in magnitude and im- 
portance — let the history of his own life teach him the dangers of 
the one, and this excellent little history of Manna-hata convince 
him of the calamities of the other. 



It has already been mentioned that, in the early times of Oloffe 
the Dreamer, a frontier post, or trading-house, called Fort Aura- 
nia, had been established on the upper waters of the Hudson, pre- 
cisely on the site of the present venerable city of Albany ; which 
was at that time considered at the very end of the habitable world. 
It was, indeed, a remote possession with which, for a long time, 
New- Amsterdam held but little intercourse. Now and then the 
" Company's Yacht," as it was called, was sent to the Fort with 
supplies, and to bring away the peltries which had been purchased 
of the Indians. It was like an expedition to the Indias, or the 
North Pole, and always made great talk in the settlement. Some- 
times an adventurous burgher would accompany the expedition, 
to the great uneasiness of his friends ; but, on his return, had so 
many stories to tell of storms and tempests on the Tappaan Zee ; 
of hobgoblins in the Highlands and at the Devils Dans Kam- 
mer, and of all the other wonders and perils with which the river 


abounded in those early days, that he deterred the less adven- 
turous inhabitants from following his example. 

Matters were in this state, when, one day, as Walter the 
Doubter and his burgermeesters were smoking and pondering over 
the affairs of the province, they were roused by the report of a 
cannon. Sallying forth, they beheld a strange vessel at anchor 
in the bay. It was unquestionably of Dutch build ; broad bot- 
tomed and high pooped, and bore the flag of their High Mighti- 
nesses at the mast-head. 

After a while a boat put off for land, and a stranger stepped 
on shore, a lofty, lordly kind of man, tall and dry, with a meagre 
face, furnished with huge moustaches. He was clad in Flemish 
doublet and hose, and an insufferably tall hat, with a cocktail 
feather. Such was the patroon Killian Van Rensellaer, who 
had come out from Holland to found a colony or patroonship on a 
great tract of wild land, granted to him by their High Mighti- 
nesses the Lords States General, in the upper regions of the 

Killian Van Rensellaer was a nine days' wonder in New- 
Amsterdam ; for he carried a high head, looked down upon the 
portly, short-legged burgomasters, and owned no allegiance to the 
governor himself; boasting that he held his patroonship directly 
from the Lords States General. 

He tarried but a short time in New- Amsterdam ; merely to 
beat up recruits for his colony. Few, however, ventured to enlist 
for those remote and savage regions ; and when they embarked, 
their friends took leave of them as if they should never see them 
more ; and stood gazing with tearful eye as the stout, round- 
sterned little vessel ploughed and splashed its way up the Hudson, 


with great noise and little progress, taking nearly a day to get 
out of sight of the city. 

And now, from time to time, floated down tidings to the Man- 
hattoes of the growing importance of this new colony. Every 
account represented Killian Van Rensellaer as rising in import- 
ance and becoming a mighty patroon in the land. He had received 
more recruits from Holland. His patroonship of Rensellaer- 
wick lay immediately below Fort Aurania, and extended for 
several miles on each side of the Hudson, beside embracing the 
mountainous region of the Helderberg. Over all this he claimed 
to hold separate jurisdiction independent of the colonial authori- 
ties at New- Amsterdam. 

All these assumptions of authority were duly reported to 
Governor Van Twiller and his council, by dispatches from Fort 
Aurania ; at each new report the governor and his counsellors 
looked at each other, raised their eyebrows, gave an extra puff or 
two of smoke, and then relapsed into their usual tranquillity. 

At length tidings came that the patroon of Rensellaerwick 
had extended his usurpations along the river, beyond the limits 
granted him by their High Mightinesses ; and that he had even 
seized upon a rocky island in the Hudson, commonly known by 
the name of Beam or Bear's Island ; where he was erecting a 
fortress to be called by the lordly name of Rensellaerstein. 

Wouter Van Twiller was roused by this intelligence. After 
consulting with his burgomasters, he dispatched a letter to the 
patroon of Rensellaerwick, demanding by what right he had 
Seized upon this island, which lay beyond the bounds of his pa- 
troonship. The answer of Killian Van Rensellaer was in his 
own lordly style, " By wapen recht /" that is to say, by the right 


of arms, or, in common parlance, by club-law. This answer 
plunged the worthy "Wouter in one of the deepest doubts he had 
in the whole course of his administration ; in the meantime, while 
Wouter doubted, the lordly Killian went on to finish his fortress 
of Rensellaerstein, about which I foresee I shall have something 
to record in a future chapter of this most eventful history. 



In the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and four, 
on a fine afternoon in the glowing month of September, I took 
my customary walk upon the battery, which is at once the pride 
and bulwark of this ancient and impregnable city of New- York. 
The ground on which I trod was hallowed by recollections of the 
past, and as I slowly wandered through the long alley of poplars, 
which, like so many birch brooms standing on end, diffused a 
melancholy and lugubrious shade, my imagination drew a contrast 
between the surrounding scenery, and what it was in the classic 
days of our forefathers. Where the government house by name, 
but the custom house by occupation, proudly reared its brick 
walls and wooden pillars, there whilom stood the low, but sub- 
stantial, red-tiled mansion of the renowned Wouter Van Twillei. 
Around it the mighty bulwarks of Fort Amsterdam frowned defi- 
ance to every absent foe ; but, like many a whiskered warrior and 
gallant militia captain, confined their martial deeds to frowns 
alone. The mud breastworks had long been leveled with the 
earth, and their site converted into the green lawns and leafy 


alleys of the battery ; where the gay apprentice sported his Sun- 
day coat, and the laborious mechanic, relieved from the dirt and 
drudgery of the week, poured his weekly tale of love into the 
half averted ear of the sentimental chambermaid. The capacious 
bay still presented the same expansive sheet of water, studded 
with islands, sprinkled with fishing boats, and bounded by shores 
of picturesque beauty. But the dark forests which once clothed 
those shores had been violated by the savage hand of cultivation, 
and their tangled mazes, and impenetrable thickets, had degen- 
erated into teeming orchards and waving fields of grain. Even 
Governor's Island, once a smiling garden, appertaining to the 
sovereigns of the province, was now covered with fortifications, 
inclosing a tremendous block-house — so that this once peaceful 
island resembled a fierce little warrior in a big cocked hat, breath- 
ing gunpowder and defiance to the world ! 

For some time did I indulge in a pensive train of thought ; 
contrasting, in sober sadness, the present day with the hallowed 
years behind the mountains ; lamenting the melancholy progress 
of improvement, and praising the zeal with which our worthy 
burghers endeavor to preserve the wrecks of venerable customs, 
prejudices, and errors, from the overwhelming tide of modern 
innovation — when by degrees my ideas took a different turn, 
and I insensibly awakened to an enjoyment of the beauties 
around me. 

It was one of those rich autumnal days which heaven par- 
ticularly bestows upon the beauteous island of Manna-hata and 
its vicinity — not a floating cloud obscured the azure firmament — 
the sun, rolling in glorious splendor through his ethereal course, 
seemed to expand his honest Dutch countenance into an unusual 
expression of benevolence, as he smiled his evening salutation 


upon a city which he delights to visit with his most bounteous 
beams — the very winds seemed to hold in their breaths in mute 
attention, lest they should ruffle the tranquillity of the hour — and 
the waveless bosom of the bay presented a polished mirror, in 
which nature beheld herself and smiled. The standard of our 
city, reserved like a choice handkerchief, for days of gala, hung 
motionless on the flag-staff, which forms the handle of a gigantic 
churn ; and even the tremulous leaves of the poplar and the aspen 
ceased to vibrate to the breath of heaven. Every thing seemed 
to acquiesce in the profound repose of nature. The formidable 
eighteen-pounders slept in the embrazures of the wooden batte- 
ries, seemingly gathering fresh strength to fight the battles of 
their country on the next fourth of July — the solitary drum on 
Governor's Island forgot to call the garrison to their shovels — the 
evening gun had not yet sounded its signal for all the regular 
well-meaning poultry throughout the country to go to roost ; and 
the fleet of canoes at anchor between Gibbet Island and Commu- 
nipaw, slumbered on their rakes, and suffered the innocent oysters 
to lie for a while unmolested in the soft mud of their native 
banks ! — My own feelings sympathized with the contagious tran- 
quillity, and I should infallibly have dozed upon one of those frag- 
ments of benches, which our benevolent magistrates have provided 
for the benefit of convalescent loungers, had not the extraordinary 
inconvenience of the couch set all repose at defiance. 

In the midst of this slumber of the soul, my attention was at- 
tracted to a black speck, peering above the western horizon, just 
in the rear of Bergen steeple — gradually it augments and over- 
hangs the would-be cities of Jersey, Harsimus, and Hoboken, 
which, like three jockies, are starting on the course of existence, 
and jostling each other at the commencement of the race. Now 


it skirts the long shore of ancient Pavonia, spreading its wide 
shadows from the high settlements of Weehawk quite to the laza- 
retto and quarantine, erected by the sagacity of our police, for the 
embarrassment of commerce — now it climbs the serene vault of 
heaven, cloud rolling over cloud, shrouding the orb of day, dark- 
ening the vast expanse, and bearing thunder and hail and tempest 
in its bosom. The earth seems agitated at the confusion of the 
heavens — the late waveless mirror is lashed into furious waves 
that roll in hollow murmurs to the shore — the oyster boats that 
erst sported in the placid vicinity of Gibbet Island, now hurry 
affrighted to the land — the poplar writhes and twists and whistles 
in the blast — torrents of drenching rain and sounding hail deluge 
the battery walks — the gates are thronged by apprentices, servant 
maids, and little Frenchmen, with pocket handkerchiefs over their 
hats, scampering from the storm — the late beauteous prospect 
presents one scene of anarchy and wild uproar, as though old 
Chaos had resumed his reign, and was hurling back into one vast 
turmoil the conflicting elements of nature. 

Whether I fled from the fury of the storm, or remained boldly 
at my post, as our gallant train-band captains, who march their 
soldiers through the rain without flinching, are points which I 
leave to the conjecture of the reader. It is possible he may be a 
little perplexed also to know the reason why I introduced this 
tremendous tempest to disturb the serenity of my work. On this 
latter point I will gratuitously instruct his ignorance. The pano- 
rama view of the battery was given merely to gratify the reader 
with a correct description of that celebrated place, and the parts 
adjacent — secondly, the storm was played off partly to give a 
little bustle and life to this tranquil part of my work, and to keep 



my drowsy readers from falling asleep — and partly to serve as 
an overture to the tempestuous times which are about to assail the 
pacific province of Nieuw-Nederlandts — and which overhang the 
slumbrous administration of the renowned Wouter Van Twiller. 
It is thus the experienced playwright puts all the fiddles, the 
French-horns, the kettle-drums, and trumpets of his orchestra in 
requisition, to usher in one of those horrible and brimstone up- 
roars called Melodrames — and it is thus he discharges his thunder, 
his lightning, his rosin, and saltpetre, preparatory to the rising of 
a ghost, or the murdering of a hero. — We will now proceed with 
our history. 

Whatever may be advanced by philosophers to the contrary, 
1 am of opinion that, as to nations, the old maxim, that " honesty 
is the best policy," is a sheer and ruinous mistake. It might have 
answered well enough in the honest times when it was made ; 
but in these degenerate days, if a nation pretends to rely merely 
upon the justice of its dealings, it will fare something like the 
honest man who fell among thieves, and found his honesty a poor 
protection against bad company. Such, at least, was the case with 
the guileless government of the New-Netherlands ; which, like a 
worthy unsuspicious old burgher, quietly settled itself down in 
the city of New- Amsterdam, as into a snug elbow chair — and fell 
into a comfortable nap — while, in the meantime, its cunning 
neighbors stepped in and picked its pockets. In a word, we may 
ascribe the commencement of all the woes of this great province, 
and its magnificent metropolis, to the tranquil security, or, to 
speak more accurately, to the unfortunate honesty of its govern- 
ment. But as I dislike to begin an important part of my history 
towards the end of a chapter ; and as my readers, like myself, 


must doubtless be exceedingly fatigued with the long walk we 
have taken, and the tempest we have sustained — I hold it meet 
we shut up the book, smoke a pipe, and having thus refreshed 
our spirits, take a fair start in a new chapter. 




That my readers may the more fully comprehend the extent of 
the calamity, at this very moment impending over the honest, 
unsuspecting province of Nieuw-Nederlandts, and its dubious 
governor, it is necessary that I should give some account of a 
horde of strange barbarians, bordering upon the eastern frontier. 

Now so it came to pass, that many years previous to the time 
of which we are treating, the sage cabinet of England had adopted 
a certain national creed, a kind of public walk of faith, or rather 
a religious turnpike, in which every loyal subject was directed to 
travel to Zion — taking care to pay the toll-gatherers by the way. 

Albeit a certain shrewd race of men, being very much given 
to indulge their own opinions on all manner of subjects (a pro- 
pensity exceedingly offensive to your free governments of Europe), 
did most presumptuously dare to think for themselves in matters 
of religion, exercising what they considered a natural and unex- 
tinguishable right — the liberty of conscience. 

As, however, they possessed that ingenuous habit of mind 



which always thinks aloud ; which rides cock-a-hoop on the tongue, 
and is for ever galloping into other people's ears, it naturally fol- 
lowed that their liberty of conscience likewise implied liberty of 
speech, which being freely indulged, soon put the country in a hub- 
bub, and aroused the pious indignation of the vigilant fathers of 
the church. 

The usual methods were adopted to reclaim them, which 
in those days were considered efficacious in bringing back stray 
sheep to the fold ; that is to say, they were coaxed, they were ad- 
monished, they were menaced, they were buffeted — line upon line, 
precept upon precept, lash upon lash, here a little and there a 
great deal, were exhausted without mercy, and without success ; 
until the worthy pastors of the church, wearied out by their un- 
paralleled stubbornness, were driven in the excess of their tender 
mercy, to adopt the Scripture text, and literally to " heap live 
embers on their heads." 

Nothing, however, could subdue that independence of the 
tongue which has ever distinguished this singular race, so that, 
rather than subject that heroic member to further tyranny, they 
one and all embarked for the wilderness of America, to enjoy, un- 
molested, the inestimable right of talking. And, in fact, no sooner 
did they land upon the shore of this free-spoken country, than 
they all lifted up their voices, and made such a clamor of tongues, 
that we are told they frightened every bird and beast out of the 
neighborhood, and struck such mute terror into certain fish, that 
they have been called dumb-jish ever since. 

This may appear marvelous, but it is nevertheless true, in 
proof of which I would observe, that the dumb-fish has ever since 
become an object of superstitious reverence, and forms the Sat- 
urday's dinner of every true Yankee. 


The simple aborigines of the land for a while contemplated 
these strange folk in utter astonishment, but discovering that they 
wielded harmless, though noisy weapons, and were a lively, inge- 
nious, good-humored race of men, they became very friendly and 
sociable, and gave them the name of Yanohies, which in the Mais- 
Tchusaeg (or Massachusett) language signifies silent men — a wag- 
gish appellation, since shortened into the familiar epithet of Yan- 
kees, which they retain unto the present day. 

True it is, and my fidelity as a historian will not allow me to 
pass over the fact, that having served a regular apprenticeship in 
the school of persecution, these ingenious people soon showed that 
they had become masters of the art The great majority were 
of one particular mode of thinking in matters of religion ; but to 
their great surprise and indignation, they found that divers 
papists, quakers and anabaptists were springing up among them, 
and all claiming to use the liberty of speech. This was at once pro- 
nounced a daring abuse of the liberty of conscience ; which they 
now insisted was nothing more than the liberty to think as one 
pleased hi matters of religion — provided one thought right ; for 
otherwise it would be giving a latitude to damnable heresies. 
Now as they, the majority, were convinced that they alone thought 
right, it consequently followed, that whoever thought different 
from them thought wrong — and whoever thought wrong, and ob- 
stinately persisted in not being convinced and converted, was a 
flagrant violator of the inestimable liberty of conscience, and a cor- 
rupt and infectious member of the body politic, and deserved to be 
lopped off and cast into the fire. The consequence of all which 
was a fiery persecution of divers sects, and especially of quakers. 

Now I'll warrant there are hosts of my readers, ready at once 
to lift up their hands and eyes, with that virtuous indignation with 


which we contemplate the faults and errors of our neighbors, and 
to exclaim at the preposterous idea of convincing the mind by 
tormenting the body, and establishing the doctrine of charity and 
forbearance by intolerant persecution. But in simple truth, what 
are we doing at this very day, and in this very enlightened na- 
tion, but acting upon the very same principle in our political con- 
troversies ? Have we not within but a few years released our- 
selves from the shackles of a government which cruelly denied us 
the privilege of governing ourselves, and using in full latitude that 
invaluable member, the tongue ? and are we not at this very mo- 
ment striving our best to tyrannize over the opinions, tie up the 
tongues, and ruin the fortunes of one another ? What are our 
great political societies, but mere political inquisitions — our pot- 
house committees but little tribunals of denunciation — our news- 
papers but mere whipping-posts and pillories, where unfortunate 
individuals are pelted with rotten eggs — and our council of ap- 
pointment, but a grand auto dafe, where culprits are annually sa- 
crificed for their political heresies ? 

, Where then is the difference in principle between our measures 
and those you are so ready to condemn among the people I am 
treating of? There is none; the difference is merely circum- 
stantial. — Thus we denounce, instead of banishing — we libel, in- 
stead of scourging — we turn out of office, instead of hanging — 
and where they burnt an offender in proper person, we either 
tar and feather or burn him in effigy — this political persecution 
being, somehow or other, the grand palladium of our liberties, and 
an incontrovertible proof that this is a free country ! 

But notwithstanding the fervent zeal with which this holy war 
was prosecuted against the whole race of unbelievers, we do not 
find that the population of this new colony was in anywise hin- 


dered thereby ; on the contrary, they multiplied to a degree which 
would be incredible to any man unacquainted with the marvelous 
fecundity of this growing country. 

This amazing increase may, indeed, be partly ascribed to a sin- 
gular custom prevalent among them, commonly known by the 
name of bundling, — a superstitious rite observed by the young 
people of both sexes, with which they usually terminated their 
festivities ; and which was kept up with religious strictness by 
the more bigoted part of the community. This ceremony was 
likewise, in those primitive times, considered as an indispen- 
sable prehminary to matrimony; their courtships commencing 
where ours usually finish — by which means they acquired that in- 
timate acquaintance with each others' good qualities before mar- 
riage, which has been pronounced by philosophers the sure basis 
of a happy union. Thus early did this cunning and ingenious 
people display a shrewdness of making a bargain, which has ever 
since distinguished them — and a strict adherence to the good old 
vulgar maxim about " buying a pig in a poke." 

To this sagacious custom, therefore, do I chiefly attribute the 
unparalleled increase of the Yanokie or Yankee race ; for it is 
a certain fact, well authenticated by court records and parish re- 
gisters, that wherever the practice of bundling prevailed, there 
was an aniazing number of sturdy brats annually born unto the 
State, without the license of the law, or the benefit of clergy. 
Neither did the irregularity of their birth operate in the least to 
their disparagement. On the contrary, they grew up a long-sided, 
raw-boned, hardy race of whoreson whalers, wood-cutters, fisher- 
men, and pedlers, and strapping corn-fed wenches ; who by their 
united efforts tended marvelously towards peopling those notable 
tracts of country called Nantucket, Piscataway, and Gape Cod. 




In the last chapter I have given a faithful and unprejudiced 
account of the origin of that singular race of people, inhabiting 
the country eastward of the Nieuw-Nederlandts ; but I have yet 
to mention certain peculiar habits which rendered them exceed- 
ingly annoying to our ever honored Dutch ancestors. 

The most prominent of these was a certain rambling propen- 
sity, with which, like the sons of Ishmael, they seem to have been 
gifted by heaven, and which continually goads them on, to shift 
their residence from place to place, so that a Yankee farmer is 
in a constant state of migration ; tarrying occasionally here and 
there ; clearing lands for other people to enjoy, building houses 
for others to inhabit, and in a manner may be considered the 
wandering Arab of America. 

His first thought, on coming to the years of manhood, is to 
settle himself in the world — which means nothing more nor less 
than to begin his rambles. To this end he takes unto himself for 
a wife some buxom country heiress, passing rich in red ribands, 
glass beads, and mock tortoise-shell combs, with a white gown 


and morocco shoes for Sunday, and deeply skilled in the mystery 
of making apple sweatmeats, long sauce, and pumpkin pie. 

Having thus provided himself, like a pedler with a heavy 
knapsack, wherewith to regale his shoulders through the journey 
of life, he literally sets out on the peregrination. His whole 
family, household furniture, and farming utensils, are hoisted into 
a covered cart ; his own and his wife's wardrobe packed up in a 
firkin — which done, he shoulders his axe, takes staff in hand, 
whistles " yankee doodle," and trudges off to the woods, as confi- 
dent of the protection of Providence, and relying as cheerfully 
upon his own resources, as did ever a patriarch of yore, when he 
journeyed into a strange country of the Gentiles. Having buried 
himself in the wilderness, he builds himself a log hut, clears away 
a cornfield and potato patch, and Providence smiling upon his 
labors, is soon surrounded by a snug farm and some half a score 
of flaxen-headed urchins, who, by their size, seem to have sprung 
all at once out of the earth, like a crop of toadstools. 

But it is not the nature of this most indefatigable of specula- 
tors to rest contented with any state of sublunary enjoyment — 
improvement is his darling passion, and having thus improved his 
lands, the next care is to provide a mansion worthy the residence 
of a landholder. A huge palace of pine boards immediately 
springs up in the midst of the wilderness, large enough for a par- 
ish church, and furnished with windows of all dimensions, but so 
rickety and flimsy withal, that every blast gives it a fit of the 

By the time the outside of this mighty air castle is completed, 
either the funds or the zeal of our adventurer are exhausted, so 
that he barely manages to half finish one room within, where the 
whole family burrow together — while the rest of the house is 


devoted to the curing of pumpkins, or storing of carrots and pota- 
toes, and is decorated with fanciful festoons of dried apples and 
peaches. The outside remaining unpainted, grows venerably 
black with time ; the family wardrobe is laid under contribution 
for old hats, petticoats, and breeches, to stuff into the broken win- 
dows, while the four winds of heaven keep up a whistling and 
howling about this aerial palace, and play as many unruly gam- 
bols as they did of yore in the cave of old -ZEolus. 

The humble log hut, which whilom nestled this improving 
family snugly within its narrow but comfortable walls, stands hard 
by, in ignominious contrast, degraded into a cow-house or pig- 
sty ; and the whole scene reminds one forcibly of a fable, which 
I am surprised has never been recorded, of an aspiring snail, who 
abandoned his humble habitation, which he had long filled with 
great respectability, to crawl into the empty shell of a lobster — 
where he would no doubt have resided with great style and splen- 
dor, the envy and the hate of all the painstaking snails in the 
neighborhood, had he not perished with cold, in one corner of his 
stupendous mansion. 

Being thus completely settled, and, to use his own words, " to 
rights," one would imagine that he would begin to enjoy the com- 
forts of his situation, to read newspapers, talk politics, neglect his 
own business, and attend to the affairs of the nation, like a useful 
and patriotic citizen ; but now it is that his wayward disposition 
begins again to operate. He soon grows tired of a spot where 
there is no longer any room for improvement — sells his farm, air 
castle, petticoat windows and all, reloads his cart, shoulders his 
axe, puts himself at the head of his family, and wanders away in 
search of new lands — again to fell trees — again to clear cornfields 
— again to build a shingle palace, and again to sell off and wander. 


Such were the people of Connecticut, who bordered upon the 
eastern frontier of New-Netherlands, and iny readers may easily 
imagine what uncomfortable neighbors this light-hearted but rest- 
less tribe must have been to our tranquil progenitors. If they 
cannot, I would ask them, if they have ever known one of our 
regular, well-organized Dutch families, whom it hath pleased 
heaven to afflict with the neighborhood of a French boarding- 
house ? The honest old burgher cannot take his afternoon's pipe 
on the bench before his door, but he is persecuted with the 
scraping of fiddles, the chattering of women, and the squalling of 
children — he cannot sleep at night for the horrible melodies of 
some amateur, who chooses to serenade the moon, and display his 
terrible proficiency in execution, on the clarionet, hautboy, or 
some other soft-toned instrument — nor can he leave the street 
door open, but his house is defiled by the unsavory visits of a 
troop of pup dogs, who even sometimes carry their loathsome 
ravages into the sanctum sanctorum, the parlor ! 

If my readers have ever witnessed the sufferings of such a 
family, so situated, they may form some idea how our worthy an- 
cestors were distressed by their mercurial neighbors of Connec- 

Gangs of these marauders, we are told, penetrated into the 
New-Netherland settlements, and threw whole villages into con- 
sternation by their unparalleled volubility, and their intolerable 
inquisitiveness — two evil habits hitherto unknown in those parts, 
or only known to be abhorred ; for our ancestors were noted as 
being men of truly Spartan taciturnity, and who neither knew 
nor cared augbt about any body's concerns but their own. Many 
enormities were committed on the liighways, where several un- 
offending burghers were brought to a stand, and tortured with 


questions and guesses, which outrages occasioned as much vexa- 
tion and heart-burning as does the modern right of search on the 
high seas. 

Great jealous y did they likewise stir up, by their intermed- 
dling and successes among the divine sex ; for being a race of 
brisk, likely, pleasant-tongued varlets, they soon seduced the 
light affections of the simple damsels from their ponderous 
Dutch gallants. Among other hideous customs, they attempted 
to introduce among them that of bundling, which the Dutch 
lasses of the Neclerlandts, with that eager passion for novelty 
and foreign fashions natural to their sex, seemed very well in- 
clined to follow, but that their mothers, being more experienced 
in the world, and better acquainted with men and things, strenu- 
ously discountenanced all such outlandish innovations. 

But what chiefly operated to embroil our ancestors with these 
strange folk, was an unwarrantable liberty which they occasion- 
ally took of entering in hordes into the territories of the New- 
Netherlands, and settling themselves down, without leave or li- 
cense, to improve the land, in the manner I have before noticed. 
This unceremonious mode of taking possession of new land was 
technically termed squatting, and hence is derived the appellation 
of squatters ; a name odious in the ears of all great landhold- 
ers, and which is given to those enterprising worthies who seize 
upon land first, and take their chance to make good their title to 
it afterwards. 

All these grievances, and many others which were constantly 
accumulating, tended to form that dark and portentous cloud, 
which, as I observed in a former chapter, was slowly gathering 
over the tranquil province of New-Netherlands. The pacific 
cabinet of Van Twiller, however, as will be perceived in the se- 


quel, bore them all with a magnanimity that redounds to their 
immortal credit — becoming by passive endurance inured to this 
increasing mass of wrongs ; like that mighty man of old, who by 
dint of carrying about a calf from the time it was born, continu- 
ed to carry it without difficulty when it had grown to be an ox. 




By this time my readers must fully perceive what an arduous 
task I have undertaken — exploring a little kind of Herculaneum 
of history, which had lain nearly for ages buried under the rub- 
bish of years, and almost totally forgotten — raking up the limbs 
and fragments of disjointed facts, and endeavoring to put them 
scrupulously together, so as to restore them to their original form 
and connection — now lugging forth the character of an almost 
forgotten hero, like a mutilated statue — now deciphering a half 
defaced inscription, and now lighting upon a mouldering manu- 
script, which, after painful study, scarce repays the trouble of 

In such case how much has the reader to depend upon the 
honor and probity of his author, lest, like a cunning antiquarian, 
he either impose upon him some spurious fabrication of his own, 
for a precious relic from antiquity — or else dress up the dismem- 
bered fragment with such false trappings, that it is scarcely pos- 
sible to distinguish the truth from the fiction with which it is en- 
veloped. This is a grievance which I have more than once had 


to lament, in the course of my wearisome researches among the 
works of my fellow historians, who have strangely disguised and 
distorted the facts respecting this country ; and particularly re- 
specting the great province of New-Netherlands ; as will be per- 
ceived by any who will take the trouble to compare their roman- 
tic effusions, tricked out in the meretricious gauds of fable, with 
this authentic history. 

I have had more vexations of the kind to encounter, in those 
parts of my history which treat of the transactions on the eastern 
border, than in any other, in consequence of the troops of his- 
torians who have infested those quarters, and have shown the 
honest people of Nieuw-Nederlandts no mercy in their works. 
Among the rest, Mr. Benjamin Trumbull arrogantly declares, 
that " the Dutch were always mere intruders." — Now to this I 
shall make no other reply, than to proceed in the steady narration 
of my history, which will contain not only proofs that the Dutch 
had clear title and possession in the fair valleys of the Connecti- 
cut, and that they were wrongfully dispossessed thereof — but 
likewise, that they have been scandalously maltreated ever since, 
by the misrepresentations of the crafty historians of New-Eng- 
land. And in this I shall be guided by a spirit of truth and 
impartiality, and a regard to immortal fame — for I would not 
wittingly dishonor my work by a single falsehood, misrepresenta- 
tion, or prejudice, though it should gain our forefathers the 
whole country of New-England. 

I have already noticed in a former chapter of my history, 
that the territories of the Nieuw-Nederlandts extended on the 
east, quite to the Varshe or fresh, or Connecticut river. Here, 
at an early period, had been established a frontier post on the 
bank of the river, and called Fort Goed Hoop, not far from the 


site of the present fair city of Hartford. It was placed under the 
command of Jacobus Yan Curlet, or Curlis, as some historians 
will have it ; a doughty soldier, of that stomachful class famous 
for eating all they kill. He was long in the body and short in 
the limb, as though a tall man's body had been mounted on a 
little man's legs. He made up for this turnspit construction by 
striding to such an extent, that you would have sworn he had on 
the seven-leagued boots of Jack the Giant-killer ; and so high did 
he tread on parade, that his soldiers were sometimes alarmed lest 
he should trample himself under foot. 

But notwithstanding the erection of this fort and the appoint- 
ment of this ugly little man of war as commander, the Yan- 
kees continued the interlopings hinted at in my last chapter, and 
at length had the audacity to squat themselves down within the 
jurisdiction of Fort Goed Hoop. 

The long-bodied Van Curlet protested with great spirit against 
these unwarrantable encroachments, couching his protest in Low 
Dutch, by way of inspiring more terror, and forthwith dispatched 
a copy of the protest to the governor at New- Amsterdam, together 
with a long and bitter account of the aggressions of the enemy. 
This done, he ordered his men, one and all, to be of good cheer — 
shut the gate of the fort, smoked three pipes, went to bed, and 
awaited the result with a resolute and intrepid tranquillity, that 
greatly animated his adherents, and no doubt struck sore dismay 
and affright into the hearts of the enemy. 

Now it came to pass, that about this time, the renowned 
Wouter Van Twiller, full of years and honors, and council din- 
ners, had reached that period of life and faculty which, according 
to the great Gulliver, entitles a man to admission into the ancient 
order of Struldbruggs. He employed his time in smoking his 


Turkish pipe, amid an assemblage of sages, equally enlightened, 
and nearly as venerable as himself, and who, for their silence, 
their gravity, their wisdom, and their cautious averseness to 
coming to any conclusion in business, are only to be equaled by 
certain profound corporations which I have known in my time. 
Upon reading the protest of the gallant Jacobus Van Curlet, 
therefore, his excellency fell straightway into one of the deepest 
doubts that ever he was known to encounter ; his capacious head 
gradually drooped on his chest, he closed his eyes, and inclined 
his ear to one side, as if listening with great attention to the dis- 
cussion that was going on in his belly; and which all who 
knew him declared to be the huge court-house or council-chamber 
of his thoughts ; forming to his head what the house of repre- 
sentatives does to the senate. An inarticulate sound, very much 
resembling a snore, occasionally escaped him — but the nature of 
this internal cogitation was never known, as he never opened his 
lips on the subject to man, woman, or child. In the meantime. 
the protest of Van Curlet laid quietly on the table, where it 
served to light the pipes of the venerable sages assembled in 
council ; and in the great smoke which they raised, the gallant 
Jacobus, his protest, and his mighty fort Goed Hoop, were soon 
as completely beclouded and forgotten, as is a question of emer- 
gency swallowed up in the speeches and resolutions of a modern 
session of Congress. 

There are certain emergencies when your profound legislators 
and sage deliberative councils are mightily in the way of a nation ; 
and when an ounce of hair-brained decision is worth a pound of 
sage doubt and cautious discussion. Such, at least, was the case at 
present ; for while the renowned Wouter Van Twiller was daily 
battling with his doubts, and his resolution growing weaker and 


weaker in the contest, the enemy pushed farther and farther into 
his territories, and assumed a most formidable appearance in the 
neighborhood of fort Goed Hoop. Here they founded the mighty 
town of Pyquag, or, as it has since been called, Weather sfield, a 
place which, if we may credit the assertions of that worthy histo- 
rian, John Josselyn, Gent., " hath been infamous by reason of the 
witches therein." — And so daring did these men of Pyquag be- 
come, that they extended those plantations of onions, for which 
their town is illustrious, under the very noses of the garrison of 
fort Goed Hoop — insomuch that the honest Dutchmen could not 
look toward that quarter without tears in their eyes. 

This crying injustice was regarded with proper indignation by 
the gallant Jacobus Van Curlet. — He absolutely trembled with 
the violence of his choler and the exacerbations of his valor; 
which were the more turbulent in their workings, from the length 
of the body in which they were agitated. He forthwith proceeded 
to strengthen his redoubts, heighten his breastworks, deepen his 
fosse, and fortify his position with a double row of abbatis ; after 
which he dispatched a fresh courier with accounts of his perilous 

The courier chosen to bear the dispatches was a fat oily little 
man, as being less liable to be worn out, or to lose leather on the 
journey ; and to insure his speed, he was mounted on the fleetest 
wagon horse in the garrison, remarkable for length of limb, large- 
ness of bone, and hardness of trot ; and so tall, that the little mes- 
senger was obliged to climb on his back by means of his tail and 
crupper. Such extraordinary speed did he make, that he arrived 
at fort Amsterdam in a little less than a month, though the dis- 
tance was full two hundred pipes, or about one hundred and 
twenty miles. 


With an appearance of great hurry and business, and smoking 
a short traveling-pipe, he proceeded on a long swing trot 
through the muddy lanes of the metropolis, demolishing whole 
batches of dirt pies, which the little Dutch children were making 
in the road ; and for which kind of pastry the children of this city 
have ever been famous. On arriving at the governor's house, he 
climbed down from his steed ; roused the gray-headed door- 
keeper, old Skaats, who, like his lineal descendant and faithful re- 
presentative, the venerable crier of our court, was nodding at his 
post— rattled at the door of the council chamber, and startled the 
members as they were dozing over a plan for establishing a pub- 
lic market. 

At that very moment a gentle grunt, or rather a deep-drawn 
snore, was heard from the chair of the governor ; a whiff of smoke 
was at the same instant observed to escape from his lips, and a 
light cloud to ascend from the bowl of his pipe. The council, of 
course, supposed him engaged in deep sleep for the good of the com- 
munity, and, according to custom in all such cases established, every 
man bawled out silence, when, of a sudden, the door flew open, 
and the little courier straddled into the apartment, cased to the 
middle in a pair of Hessian boots, which he had got into for the 
sake of expedition. In his right hand he held forth the ominous 
dispatches, and with his left he grasped firmly the waistband of 
his galligaskins, which had unfortunately given way, in the exer- 
tion of descending from his horse. He stumped resolutely up to 
the governor, and with more hurry than perspicuity, delivered his 
message. But fortunately his ill tidings came too late to ruffle 
the tranquillity of this most tranquil of rulers. His venerable 
excellency had just breathed and smoked his last — his lungs and 
his pipe having been exhausted together, and his peaceful soul 



having escaped in the last whiff that curled from his tobacco pipe. 
In a word, the renowned Walter the Doubter, who had so often 
slumbered with his contemporaries, now slept with his fathers, and 
Wilhelmus Kieft governed in his stead. 





When the lofty Thucydides is about to enter upon his description 
of the plague that desolated Athens, one of his modern commen- 
tators assures the reader, that the history is now going to be ex- 
ceeding solemn, serious, and pathetic ; and hints, with that air of 
chuckling gratulation with which a good dame draws forth a choice 
morsel from a cupboard to regale a favorite, that this plague will 
give his history a most agreeable variety. 

In like manner did my heart leap within me, when I came 
to the dolorous dilemma of Fort Good Hope, which I at once 
perceived to be the forerunner of a series of great events and en- 
tertaining disasters. Such are the true subjects for the historic 
pen. For what is history, in fact, but a kind of Newgate calen- 


on his fellow man ? It is a huge libel on human nature, to which 
we industriously add page after page, volume after volume, 
as if we were building up a monument to the honor, rather than 
the infamy of our species. If we turn over the pages of these 
chronicles that man has written of himself, what are the charac- 
ters dignified by the appellation of great, and held up to the admi- 
ration of posterity ? Tyrants, robbers, conquerors, renowned only 
for the magnitude of their misdeeds, and the stupendous wrongs 
and miseries they have inflicted on mankind — warriors,. who have 
hired themselves to the trade of blood, not from motives of virtuous 
patriotism, or to protect the injured and defenceless, but merely to 
gain the vaunted glory of being adroit and successful in massa- 
cring their fellow-beings ! What are the great events that con- 
stitute a glorious era ? — The fall of empires — the desolation of 
happy countries — splendid cities smoking in their ruins — the 
proudest works of art tumbled in the dust — the shrieks and groans 
of whole nations ascending unto heaven ! 

It is thus the historian may be said to thrive on the miseries 
of mankind, like birds of prey which hover over the field of battle, 
to fatten on the mighty dead. It was observed by a great pro- 
jector of inland lock navigation, that rivers, lakes, and oceans, 
were only formed to feed canals. — In like manner I am tempted 
to believe, that plots, conspiracies, wars, victories, and massacres, 
are ordained by Providence only as food for the historian. 

It is a source of great delight to the philosopher, in studying 
the wonderful economy of nature, to trace the mutual dependen- 
cies of things, how they are created reciprocally for each other, 
and how the most noxious and apparently unnecessary animal 
has its uses. Thus those swarms of flies, which are so often 


execrated as useless vermin, are created for the sustenance of 
spiders — and spiders, on the other hand, are evidently made to 
devour flies. So those heroes who have been such scourges to 
the world, were bounteously provided as themes for the poet and 
historian, while the poet and the historian were destined to record 
the achievements of heroes ! 

These, and many similar reflections, naturally arose in my 
mind, as I took up my pen to commence the reign of William 
Kieft : for now the stream of our history, which hitherto has 
rolled in a tranquil current, is about to depart for ever from its 
peaceful haunts, and brawl through many a turbulent and rugged 

As some sleek ox, sunk in the rich repose of a clover-field, 
dozing and chewing the cud, will bear repeated blows before it 
raises itself ; so the province of Nieuw Nederlandts, having waxed 
fat under the drowsy reign of the Doubter, needed cuffs and kicks 
to rouse it into action. The reader will now witness the manner 
in which a peaceful community advances towards a state of war ; 
which is apt to be like the approach of a horse to a drum, with 
much prancing and little progress, and too often with the wrong 
end foremost. 

Wilhelmus Kieft, who, in 1634, ascended the gubernatorial 
chair (to borrow a favorite though clumsy appellation of modern 
phraseologists), was of a lofty descent, his father being inspector 
of wind-mills in the ancient town of Saardam ; and our hero, we 
are told, when a boy, made very curious investigations into the 
nature and operation of these machines, which was one reason 
why he afterwards came to be so ingenious a governor. His 
name, according to the most authentic etymologists, was a corrup- 
tion of Ky ver ; that is to say, a wrangler or scolder ; and ex- 



pressed the characteristic of his family, which, for nearly two 
centuries, had kept the windy town of Saardam in hot water, and 
produced more tartars and brimstones than any ten families in the 
place ; and so truly did he inherit this family peculiarity, that he 
had not been a year in the government of the province, before he 
was universally denominated William the Testy. His appear- 
ance answered to his name. He was a brisk, wiry, waspish little 
old gentleman ; such a one as may now and then be seen stump- 
ing about our city in a broad-skirted coat with huge buttons, a 
cocked hat stuck on the back of his head, and a cane as high as 
his chin. His face was broad, but his features were sharp ; his 
cheeks were scorched into a dusky red, by two fiery little gray 
eyes ; his nose turned up, and the corners of his mouth turned 
down, pretty much like the muzzle of an irritable pug-dog. 

I have heard it observed by a profound adept in human physi- 
ology, that if a woman waxes fat with the progress of years, her 
tenure of life is somewhat precarious, but if haply she withers as 
she grows old, she lives for ever. Such promised to be the case 
with William the Testy, who grew tough in proportion as he 
dried. He had withered, in fact, not through the process of years, 
but through the tropical fervor of his soul, which burnt like a 
vehement rush-light in his bosom ; inciting him to incessant 
broils and bickerings. Ancient traditions speak much of his 
learning, and of the gallant inroads he had made into the dead 
languages in which he had made captive a host of Greek nouns 
and Latin verbs ; and brought off rich booty in ancient saws and 
apothegms ; which he was wont to parade in his public harangues, 
as a triumphant general of yore, his spolia opima. Of meta- 
physics he knew enough to confound all hearers and himself into 
the bargain. In logic, he knew the whole family of syllogisms 


and dilemmas, and was so proud of his skill that he never suffered 
even a self-evident fact to pass unargued. It was observed, how- 
ever, that he seldom got into an argument without getting into a 
perplexity, and then into a passion with his adversary for not 
being convinced gratis. 

He had, moreover, skirmished smartly on the frontiers of 
several of the sciences, was fond of experimental philosophy, and 
prided himself upon inventions of all kinds. His abode, which 
he had fixed at a Bowerie or country-seat at a short distance from 
the city, just at what is now called Dutch-street, soon abounded 
with proofs of his ingenuity : patent smoke-jacks that required a 
horse to work them ; Dutch ovens that roasted meat without fire ; 
carts that went before the horses; weather-cocks that turned 
against the wind ; and other wrong-headed contrivances that as- 
tonished and confounded all beholders. The house, too, was beset 
with paralytic cats and dogs, the subjects of his experimental 
philosophy ; and the yelling and yelping of the latter unhappy 
victims of science, while aiding in the pursuit of knowledge, soon 
gained for the place the name of " Dog's Misery," by which it 
continues to be known even at the present day. 

It is in knowledge as in swimming ; he who flounders and 
splashes on the surface, makes more noise, and attracts more 
attention, than the pearl-diver who quietly dives in quest of 
treasures to the bottom. The vast acquirements of the new go- 
vernor were the theme of marvel among the simple burghers of 
New- Amsterdam ; he figured about the place as learned a man as 
a Bonze at Pekin, who has mastered one half of the Chinese 
alphabet : and was unanimously pronounced a " universal genius !" 

I have known in my time many a genius of this stamp ; but, 
to speak my mind freely, I never knew one who, for the ordinary 


purposes of life, was worth his weight in straw. In this respect, 
a little sound judgment and plain common sense is worth all the 
sparkling genius that ever wrote poetry or invented theories. 
Let us see how the universal acquirements of William the Testy 
aided him in the affairs of government. 



No sooner had this bustling little potentate been blown by a 
whiff of fortune into the seat of government than he called his 
council together to make them a speech on the state of affairs. 

Caius Gracchus, it is said, when he harangued the Roman 
populace, modulated his tone by an oratorical flute or pitch-pipe ; 
Wilhelmus Kieft, not having such an instrument at hand, availed 
himself of that musical organ or trump which nature has implanted 
in the midst of a man's face ; in other words, he preluded his 
address by a sonorous blast of the nose ; a preliminary flourish 
much in vogue among public orators. 

He then commenced by expressing his humble sense of his ut- 
ter unworthiness of the high post to which he had been appointed ; 
which made some of the simple burghers wonder why he under- 
took it, not knowing that it is a point of etiquette with a public 
orator never to enter upon office without declaring himself un- 
worthy to cross the threshold. He then proceeded in a manner 
highly classic and erudite to speak of government generally, and 
of the governments of ancient Greece in particular; together 


with the wars of Rome and Carthage ; and the rise and fall of 
sundry outlandish empires which the worthy burghers had never 
read nor heard of. Having thus, after the manner of your 
learned orators, treated of things in general, he came by a natu- 
ral, roundabout transition, to the matter in hand, namely, the 
daring aggressions of the Yankees. 

As my readers are well aware of the advantage a potentate 
has of handling his enemies as he pleases in his speeches and 
bulletins, where he has the talk all on his own side, they may rest 
assured that William the Testy did not let such an opportunity 
escape of giving the Yankees what is called " a taste of his quali- 
ty." In speaking of their inroads into the territories of their 
High Mightinesses, he compared them to the Gauls who deso- 
lated Rome; the Goths and Vandals who overran the fairest 
plains of Europe ; but when he came to speak of the unparalleled 
audacity with which they of Weathersfield had advanced their 
patches up to the very walls of Fort Goed Hoop, and threatened 
to smother the garrison in onions, tears of rage started into his 
eyes, as though he nosed the very offence in question. 

Having thus wrought up his tale to a climax, he assumed a 
most belligerent look, and assured the council that he had devised 
an instrument, potent in its effects, and which he trusted would 
soon drive the Yankees from the land. So saying, he thrust his 
hand into one of the deep pockets of his broad-skirted coat and 
drew forth, not an infernal machine, but an instrument in writing, 
which he laid with great emphasis upon the table. 

The burghers gazed at it for a time in silent awe, as a wary 
housewife does at a gun, fearful it may go off half-cocked. The 
document in question had a sinister look, it is true ; it was crab- 
bed in text, and from a broad red ribbon dangled the great seal 


of the province, about the size of a buckwheat pancake. Still, 
after all, it was but an instrument in writing. Herein, however, 
existed the wonder of the invention. The document in question 
was a Proclamation, ordering the Yankees to depart instantly 
from the territories of their High Mightinesses under pain of 
suffering all the forfeitures and punishments in such case made 
and provided. It was on the moral effect of this formidable 
instrument that Wilhelmus Kieft calculated ; pledging his valor 
as a governor that, once fulminated against the Yankees, it 
would, in less than two months, drive every mother's son of them 
across the borders. 

The council broke up in perfect wonder, and nothing was 
talked of for some time among the old men and women of New- 
Amsterdam but the vast genius of the governor, and his new and 
cheap mode of fighting by proclamation. 

As to Wilhelmus Kieft, having dispatched his proclamation 
to the frontiers, he put on his cocked hat and corduroy small- 
clothes, and mounting a tall raw-boned charger, trotted out to his 
rural retreat of Dog's Misery. Here, like the good Numa, he 
reposed from the toils of state, taking lessons in government, not 
from the nymph Egeria, but from the honored wife of his bosom ; 
who was one of that class of females sent upon the earth a little 
after the flood, as a punishment for the sins of mankind, and 
commonly known by the appellation of knowing women. In fact, 
my duty as an historian obliges me to make known a circum- 
stance which was a great secret at the time^ and consequently 
was not a subject of scandal at more than half the tea-tables in 
New- Amsterdam, but which, like many other great secrets, has 
leaked out in the lapse of years — and this was, that Wilhelmus 
the Testy, though one of the most potent little men that ever 


breathed, yet submitted at home to a species of government, nei- 
ther laid down in Aristotle nor Plato ; in short, it partook of the 
nature of a pure, unmixed tyranny, and is familiarly denominated 
petticoat government. — An absolute sway, which, although ex- 
ceedingly common in these modern days, was very rare among 
the ancients, if we may judge from the rout made about the 
domestic economy of honest Socrates ; which is the only ancient 
case on record. 

The great Kieft, however, warded off all the sneers and 
sarcasms of his particular friends, who are ever ready to joke 
with a man on sore points of the kind, by alleging that it was a 
government of his own election, to which he submitted through 
choice ; adding at the same time a profound maxim which he had 
found in an ancient author, hat " he who would aspire to govern 
should first learn to oley." 




Never was a more comprehensive, a more expeditious, or, what 
is still better, a more economical measure devised, than this of 
defeating the Yankees by proclamation — an expedient, likewise, 
so gentle and humane, there were ten chances to one in favor of 
its succeeding, — but then there was one chance to ten that it would 
not succeed — as the ill-natured fates would have it, that single 
chance carried the day ! The proclamation was perfect in all its 
parts, well constructed, well written, well sealed, and well pub- 
lished — all that was wanting to insure its effect was, that the 
Yankees should stand in awe of it ; but, provoking to relate, they 
treated it with the most absolute contempt, applied it to an un- 
seemly purpose, and thus did the first warlike proclamation come 
to a shameful end — a fate which I am credibly informed has be- 
fallen but too many of its successors. 

So far from abandoning the country, those varlets continued 
their encroachments, squatting along the green banks of the 
Varsche river, and founding Hartford, Stamford, New Haven, and 


other border towns. I have already shown how the onion patches 
of Pyquag were an eyesore to Jacobus Van Curlet and his gar- 
rison ; but now these moss-troopers increased in their atrocities, 
kidnapping hogs, impounding horses, and sometimes grievously 
rib-roasting their owners. Our worthy forefathers could scarcely 
stir abroad without danger of being outjockied in horseflesh, or 
taken in in bargaining ; while, in their absence, some daring 
Yankee pedler would penetrate to their household, and nearly 
ruin the good housewives with tin-ware and wooden bowls.* 

I am well aware of the perils which environ me in this part 
of my history. While raking, with curious hand but pious heart, 
among the mouldering remains of former days, anxious to draw 
therefrom the honey of wisdom, I may fare somewhat like that 

* The following cases in point appear in Hazard's Collection of State 

" In the meantime, they of Hartford have not onely usurped and taken in 
the lands of Connecticott, although unrighteously and against the lawes of na- 
tions, but have hindered our nation in sowing theire own purchased broken np 
lands, but have also sowed them with corne in the night, which the Neder- 
landers had broken up and intended to sowe : and have beaten the servants of 
the high and mighty the honored companie, which were laboring upon theire 
master's lands, from theire lands, with sticks and plow staves in hostile manner 
laming, and among the rest, struck Ever Duckings [Evert Duyckink] a hole in 
his head, with a stick, so that the bloode ran downe very strongly downe upon 
his body." 

" Those of Hartford sold a hogg, that belonged to the honored companie, 
under pretence that it had eaten of theire grounde grass, when they had not 
any foot of inheritance. They proffered the hogg for 5s. if the commissioners 
would have given 5s. for damage : which the commissioners denied, because 
noe man's own hogg (as men used to say) can trespass upon his owne master's 


valiant worthy, Samson, who, in meddling with the carcass of a 
dead lion, drew a swarm of bees about his ears. Thus, while 
narrating the many misdeeds of the Yanokie or Yankee race, it 
is ten chances to one but I offend the morbid sensibilities of cer- 
tain of their unreasonable descendants, who may fly out and raise 
such a buzzing about this unlucky head of mine, that I shall need 
the tough hide of an Achilles, or an Orlando Furioso, to protect 
me from their stings. 

Should such be the case, I should deeply and sincerely lament 
— not my misfortune in giving offence — but the wrong-headed 
perverseness of an ill-natured generation, in taking offence at any 
thing I say. That their ancestors did use my ancestors ill is 
true, and I am very sorry for it. I would, with all my heart, the 
fact were otherwise ; but as I am recording the sacred events of 
history, I'd not bate one nail's breadth of the honest truth, though 
I were sure the whole edition of my work would be bought up 
and burnt by the common hangman of Connecticut. And in 
sooth, now that these testy gentlemen have drawn me out, I will 
make bold to go farther, and observe that this is one of the grand 
purposes for which we impartial historians are sent into the world 
— to redress wrongs and render justice on the heads of the guilty. 
So that, though a powerful nation may wrong its neighbors with 
temporary impunity, yet sooner or later an historian springs up, 
who wreaks ample chastisement on it in return. 

Thus these moss-troopers of the east little thought, I'll war- 
rant it, while they were harassing the inoffensive province of 
Nieuw-Nederlands, and driving its unhappy governor to his wit's 
end, that an historian would ever arise, and give them their 
own, with interest. Since, then, I am but performing my bounden 
duty as an historian, in avenging the wrongs of our revered an- 


cestors, I shall make no further apology , and, indeed, when it is 
considered that I have all these ancient borderers of the east in 
my power, and at the mercy of my pen, I trust that it will be 
admitted I conduct myself with great humanity and moderation. 

It was long before William the Testy could be persuaded that 
his much vaunted war measure was ineffectual ; on the contrary, 
he flew in a passion whenever it was doubted, swearing that 
though slow in operating, yet when it once began to work, it would 
soon purge the land of these invaders. When convinced, at 
length, of the truth, like a shrewd physician he attributed the 
failure to the quantity, not the quality of the medicine, and re- 
solved to double the dose. He fulminated, therefore, a second 
proclamation more vehement than the first, forbidding all inter- 
course with these Yankee intruders ; ordering the Dutch burghers 
on the frontiers to buy none of their pacing horses, measly pork, 
apple sweetmeats, Weathersfield onions, or wooden bowls, and to 
furnish them with no supplies of gin, gingerbread, or sourkrout. 

Another interval elapsed, during which the last proclamation 
was as little regarded as the first, and the nonintercourse was 
especially set at naught by the young folks of both sexes, if we 
may judge by the active bundling which took place along the 

At length one day the inhabitants of New- Amsterdam were 
aroused by a furious barking of dogs, great and small, and beheld, 
to their surprise, the whole garrison of Fort Good Hope strag- 
gling into town all tattered and wayworn, with Jacobus Van Curlet 
at their head, bringing the melancholy intelligence of the capture 
of Fort Good Hope by the Yankees. 

The fate of this important fortress is an impressive warning 
to all military commanders. It was neither carried by storm nor 


famine ; nor was it undermined ; nor bombarded ; nor set on fire 
by red-hot shot ; but was taken by a stratagem no less singular 
than effectual, and which can never fail of success, whenever an 
opportunity occurs of putting it in practice. 

It seems that the Yankees had received intelligence that the 
garrison of Jacobus Van Curlet had been reduced nearly one- 
eighth by the death of two of his most corpulent soldiers, who 
had overeaten themselves on fat salmon caught in the Varsche 
river. A secret expedition was immediately set on foot to sur- 
prise the fortress. The crafty enemy knowing the habits of the 
garrison to sleep soundly after they had eaten their dinners and 
smoked their pipes, stole upon them at the noontide of a sultry 
summer's day, and surprised them in the midst of their slumbers. 

In an instant the flag of their High Mightinesses was lowered, 
and the Yankee standard elevated in its stead, being a dried cod- 
fish, by way of a spread eagle. A strong garrison was appointed, 
of long-sided, hard-fisted Yankees, with Weathersfield onions for 
cockades and feathers. As to Jacobus Van Curlet and his men, 
they were seized by the nape of the neck, conducted to the gate, 
and one by one dismissed with a kick in the crupper, as Charles 
Xllth dismissed the heavy-bottomed Russians at the battle of 
Narva ; Jacobus Van Curlet receiving two kicks in consideration 
of his official dignity. 





Language cannot express the awful ire of William the Testy on 
hearing of the catastrophe at Fort Goed Hoop. For three good 
hours his rage was too great for words, or rather the words were 
too great for him, (being a very small man,) and he was nearly 
choked by the misshapen, nine-cornered Dutch oaths and epithets 
which crowded at once into his gullet. At length his words 
found vent, and for three days he kept up a constant discharge, 
anathematizing the Yankees, man, woman, and child, for a set of 
dieven, schobbejacken, deugenieten, twistzoekeren, blaes-kaken, 
loosen-schalken, kakken-bedden, and a thousand other names, of 
which, unfortunately for posterity, history does not make men- 
tion. Finally, he swore that he would have nothing more to do 
with such a squatting, bundling, guessing, questioning, swapping, 
pumpkin-eating, molasses-daubing, shingle-splitting, cider-water- 
ing, horse-jockeying, notion-peddling crew — that they might stay 
at fort Goed Hoop and rot, before he would dirty his hands by 



attempting to drive them away ; in proof of which he ordered the 
new-raised troops to be marched forthwith into winter quarters, 
although it was not as yet quite midsummer. Great despondency 
now fell upon the city of New- Amsterdam. It was feared that 
the conquerors of fort Goed Hoop, flushed with victory and 
apple-brandy, might march on to the capital, take it by storm, 
and annex the whole province to Connecticut. The name of 
Yankee became as terrible among the Nieuw-Nederlanders as 
was that of Gaul among the ancient Romans ; insomuch that the 
good wives of the Manhattoes used it as a bugbear wherewith 
to frighten their unruly children. 

Every body clamored around the governor, imploring him to 
put the city in a complete posture of defence, and he listened to 
their clamors. Nobody could accuse William the Testy of being 
idle in time of danger, or at any other time. He was never idle, 
but then he was often busy to very little purpose. When a young- 
ling he had been impressed with the words of Solomon, " Go to 
the ant, thou sluggard, observe her ways and be wise," in con- 
formity to which he had ever been of a restless, ant-like turn ; 
hurrying hither and thither, nobody knew why or wherefore, 
busying himself about small matters with an air of great impor- 
tance and anxiety, and toiling at a grain of mustard-seed in the 
full conviction that he was moving a mountain. In the present 
instance, he called in all his inventive powers to his aid, and 
was continually pondering over plans, making diagrams, and wor- 
rying about with a troop of workmen and projectors at his heels. 
At length, after a world of consultation and contrivance, his plans 
of defence ended in rearing a great flag-staff in the centre of the 
fort, and perching a wind-mill on each bastion. 

These warlike preparations in some measure allayed the pub- 


lie alarm, especially after an additional means of securing the 
safety of the city had been suggested by the governor's lady. It 
has already been hinted in this most authentic history, that in 
the domestic establishment of William the Testy " the gray mare 
was the better horse ;" in other words, that his wife " ruled the 
roast," and, in governing the governor, governed the province, 
which might thus be said to be under petticoat government. 

Now it came to pass, that about this time there lived in the 
Manhattoes a jolly, robustious trumpeter, named Antony Van 
Corlear, famous for his long wind ; and A?ho, as the story goes, 
could twang so potently upon his instrument, that the effect upon 
all within hearing was like that ascribed to the Scotch bagpipe 
when it sings right lustily i' the nose. 

This sounder of brass was moreover a lusty bachelor, with a 
pleasant, burly visage, a long nose, and huge whiskers. He had 
his little howerie, or retreat in the country, where he led a 
roystering life, giving dances to the wives and daughters of the 
burghers of the Manhattoes, insomuch that he became a prodi- 
gious favorite with all the women, young and old. He is said to 
have been the first to collect that famous toll levied on the fair 
sex at Kissing Bridge, on the highway to Hellgate.* 

To this sturdy bachelor the eyes of all the women were turned 
in this time of darkness and peril, as the very man to second and 
carry out the plans of defence of the governor. A kind of petti- 
coat council was forthwith held at the government house, at which 
the governor's lady presided ; and this lady, as has been hinted, 

* The bridge here mentioned by Mr. Knickerbocker stil] exists; but it is 
said that the toll is seldom collected now-a-days excepting on sleighing parties, 
by the descendants of the patriarchs, who still preserve the traditions of the 


being all potent with the governor, the result of these councils 
was the elevation of Antony the Trumpeter to the post of com- 
mandant of wind-mills and champion of New- Amsterdam. 

The city being thus fortified and garrisoned, it would have 
done one's heart good to see the governor snapping his fingers 
and fidgeting with delight, as the trumpeter strutted up and down 
the ramparts twanging defiance to the whole Yankee race, as 
does a modern editor to all the principalities and powers on the 
other side of the Atlantic. In the hands of Antony Van Cor- 
lear this windy instrument appeared to him as potent as the 
horn of the paladin Astolpho, or even the more classic horn of 
Alecto ; nay, he had almost the temerity to compare it with the 
rams' horns celebrated in holy writ, at the very sound of which 
the walls of Jericho fell down. 

Be all this as it may, the apprehensions of hostilities from the 
east gradually died away. The Yankees made no further inva- 
sion ; nay, they declared they had only taken possession of fort 
Goed Hoop as being erected within their territories. So far from 
manifesting hostility, they continued to throng to New- Amsterdam 
with the most innocent countenances imaginable, filling the mar- 
ket with their notions, being as ready to trade with the Neder- 
landers as ever — and not a whit more prone to get to the windward 
of them in a bargain. 

The old wives of the Manhattoes who took tea with the gov- 
ernor's lady attributed all this affected moderation to the awe 
inspired by the military preparations of the governor, and the 
windy prowess of Antony the Trumpeter. 

There were not wanting illiberal minds, however, who 
sneered at the governor for thinking to defend his city as he 
governed it, by mere wind; but William Kieft was not to be 



jeered out of his wind-mills — he had seen them perched upon 
the ramparts of his native city of Saardam, and was persuaded 
they were connected with the great science of defence ; nay, 
so much piqued was he by having them made a matter of ridi- 
cule, that he introduced them into the arms of the city, where 
they remain to this day, quartered with the ancient beaver of the 
Manhattoes, an emblem and memento of his policy. 

I must not omit to mention that certain wise old burghers of 
the Manhattoes, skillful hi expounding signs and mysteries, after 
events have come to pass, consider this early intrusion of the 
wind-mill into the escutcheon of our city, which before had been 
wholly occupied by the beaver, as portentous of its after fortune, 
when the quiet Dutchman would be elbowed aside by the enter- 
prising Yankee, and patient industry overtopped by windy specu- 



Among the wrecks and fragments of exalted wisdom which have 
floated down the stream of time from venerable antiquity, and 
been picked up by those humble, but industrious wights who ply 
along the shores of literature, we find a shrewd ordinance of Cha- 
rondas the Locrian legislator. Anxious to preserve the judicial 
code of the State from the additions and amendments of country 
members and seekers of popularity, he ordained that, whoever pro- 
posed a new law should do it with a halter about his neck; 
whereby, in case his proposition were rejected, they just hung him 
up — and there the matter ended. 

The eifect was, that for more than two hundred years there 
was but one trifling alteration in the judicial code ; and legal mat- 
ters were so clear and simple that the whole race of lawyers 
starved to death for want of employment. The Locrians, too, 
being freed from all incitement to litigation, lived very lovingly 
together, and were so happy a people that they make scarce any 
figure in history ; it being only your litigious, quarrelsome, ranti- 
pole nations who make much noise in the world. 

I have been reminded of these historical facts in coming to 
treat of the internal policy of William the Testy. Well would 


it have been for him had he in the course of his universal ac- 
quirements stumbled upon the precaution of the good Charondas ; 
or had he looked nearer home at the protectorate of OlofFe the 
Dreamer, when the community was governed without laws. Such 
legislation, however, was not suited to the busy, meddling mind of 
William the Testy. On the contrary, he conceived that the true 
wisdom of legislation consisted in the multiplicity of laws. He 
accordingly had great punishments for great crimes, and little pun- 
ishments for little offences. By degrees the whole surface of so- 
ciety was cut up by ditches and fences, and quickset hedges of the 
law, and even the sequestered paths of private life so beset by 
petty rules and ordinances, too numerous to be remembered, that 
one could scarce walk at large without the risk of letting off a 
spring-gun or falling into a man-trap. 

In a little while the blessings of innumerable laws became ap- 
parent — a class of men arose to expound and confound them. 
Petty courts were instituted to take cognizance of petty offences, 
pettifoggers began to abound ; and the community was soon set 
together by the ears. 

Let me not be thought as intending any thing derogatory to 
the piofession of the law, or to the distinguished members of that 
illustrious order. "Well am I aware that we have in this ancient 
city innumerable worthy gentlemen, the knights-errants of modern 
days, who go about redressing wrongs and defending the defence- 
less, not for the love of filthy lucre, nor the selfish cravings of 
renown, but merely for the pleasure of doing good. Sooner would 
I throw this trusty pen into the flames, and cork up my ink-bottle 
for ever, than infringe even for a nail's breadth upon the dignity 
of these truly benevolent champions of the distressed. On the 
contrary I allude merely to those caitiff scouts who, in these latter 


days of evil, infest the skirts of the profession, as did the recreant 
Cornish knights of yore, the honorable order of chivalry ; who, 
under its auspices, commit flagrant wrongs ; who thrive by quib- 
bles, by quirks and chicanery, and like vermin increase the cor- 
ruption in which they are engendered. 

Nothing so soon awakens the malevolent passions as the facility 
of gratification. The courts of law would never be so crowded 
with petty, vexatious and disgraceful suits, were it not for the 
herds of pettifoggers. These tamper with the passions of the 
poorer and more ignorant classes ; who, as if poverty were not a 
sufficient misery in itself, are ever ready to imbitter it by litigation. 
These, like quacks in medicine, excite the malady to profit by the 
cure, and retard the cure to augment the fees. As the quack ex- 
hausts the constitution, the pettifogger exhausts the purse ; and as 
he who has once been under the hands of a quack, is for ever 
after prone to dabble in drugs, and poison himself with infallible 
prescriptions ; so the client of the pettifogger is ever after prone 
to embroil himself with his neighbors, and impoverish himself 
with successful lawsuits. — My readers will excuse this digression 
into which I have been unwarily betrayed ; but I could not avoid 
giving a cool and unprejudiced account of an abomination too 
prevalent in this excellent city, and with the effects of which I 
am ruefully acquainted : having been nearly ruined by a law- 
suit which was decided against me ; and my ruin having been 
completed by another, which was decided in my favor. 

To return to our theme. There was nothing in the whole 
range of moral offences against which the jurisprudence of Wil- 
liam the Tesfcy was more strenuously directed, than the crying 
sin of poverty. He pronounced it the root of all evil, and de- 
termined to cut it up root and branch, and extirpate it from the 


land. He had been struck, in the course of his travels in the 
old countries of Europe, with the wisdom of those notices post- 
ed up in country towns, that " any vagrant found begging there 
would be put in the stocks, " and he had observed, that no beg- 
gars were to be seen in these neighborhoods ; having doubtless 
thrown off their rags and their poverty and become rich under 
the terror of the law. He determined to improve upon this 
hint. In a little while a new machine of his own invention, was 
erected hard by Dog's Misery. This was nothing more nor less 
than a gibbet, of a very strange, uncouth, and unmatchable con- 
struction, far more efficacious, as he boasted, than the stocks, for 
the punishment of poverty. It was for altitude not a whit in- 
ferior to that of Haman, so renowned in Bible history ; but the 
marvel of the contrivance was, that the culprit, instead of being 
suspended by the neck according to venerable custom, was hoist- 
ed by the waistband, and kept dangling and sprawling between 
heaven and earth for an hour or two at a time — to the infinite 
entertainment and edification of the respectable citizens who 
usually attend exhibitions of the kind. 

It is incredible how the little governor chuckled at beholding 
caitiff vagrants and sturdy beggars thus swinging by the crupper, 
and cutting antic gambols in the air. He had a thousand plea- 
santries, and mirthful conceits to utter upon these occasions. He 
called them his dandle-lions — his wild-fowl — his high-fliers — his 
spread-eagles — his goshawks — his scare-crows — and finally, his 
gallows-birds ; which ingenious appellation, though originally con- 
fined to worthies who had taken the air in this strange manner, has 
since grown to be a cant-name given to all candidates for legal 
elevation. This punishment, moreover, if we may credit the 
assertions of certain grave etymologists, gave the first hint for a 


kind of harnessing, or strapping, by which our forefathers braced 
up their multifarious breeches, and which has of late years been 
revived, and continues to be worn at the present day. 

Such was the punishment of all petty delinquents, vagrants 
and beggars and others detected in being guilty of poverty in a 
small way ; as to those who had offended on a great scale, who 
had been guilty of flagrant misfortunes and enormous backslidings 
of the purse, and who stood convicted of large debts, which they 
were unable to pay, William Kieft had them straightway inclosed 
within the stone walls of a prison, there to remain until they 
should reform and grow rich. This notable expedient, however, 
does not appear to have been more efficacious under William the 
Testy than in more modern days : it being found that the longer 
a poor devil was kept in prison the poorer he grew. 




Next to his projects for the suppression of poverty, may be 
classed those of William the Testy, for increasing the wealth of 
New- Amsterdam. Solomon, of whose character for wisdom the 
little governor was somewhat emulous, had made gold and silver 
as plenty as the stones in the streets of Jerusalem. William Kieft 
could not pretend to vie with him as to the precious metals, but 
he determined, as an equivalent, to flood the streets of New- Am- 
sterdam with Indian money. This was nothing more nor less 
than strings of beads wrought out of clams, periwinkles, and 
other shell-fish, and called seawant or wampum. These had 
formed a native currency among the simple savages ; who were 
content to take them of the Dutchmen in exchange for peltries. 
In an unlucky moment, William the Testy, seeing this money of 
easy production, conceived the project of making it the current 
coin of the province. It is true it had an intrinsic value among 
the Indians, who used it to ornament their robes and moccasons, 
but among the honest burghers it had no more intrinsic value than 
those rags which form the paper currency of modern days. This 


consideration, however, had no weight with William Kieft. He 
began by paying all the servants of the company, and all the 
debts of government, in strings of wampum. He sent emissa- 
ries to sweep the shores of Long Island, which was the Ophir 
of this modern Solomon, and abounded in shell-fish. These were 
transported in loads to New-Amsterdam, coined into Indian 
money, and launched into circulation. 

And now, for a time, affairs went on swimmingly ; money 
became as plentiful as in the modern days 'of paper currency, and, 
to use the popular phrase, " a wonderful impulse was given to 
public prosperity." Yankee traders poured into the province, 
buying every thing they could lay their hands on, and paying the 
worthy Dutchmen their own price — in Indian money. If the 
latter, however, attempted to pay the Yankees in the same coin 
for their tinware and wooden bowls, the case was altered ; nothing- 
would do but Dutch guilders and such like " metallic currency." 
What was worse, the Yankees introduced an inferior kind of 
wampum made of oyster-shells, with which they deluged the 
province, carrying off in exchange all the silver and gold, the 
Dutch herrings, and Dutch cheeses : thus early did the knowing 
men of the east manifest their skill in bargaining the New-Am- 
sterdammers out of the oyster, and leaving them the shell.* 

It was a long time before William the Testy was made sen- 

* In a manuscript record of the province, dated 1659, Library of the New- 
York Historical Society, is the following mention of Indian money. 

Seawant alias wampum. Beads manufactured from the Quahavg or wilk : 
a shell-fish formerly abounding on our coasts, but lately of more rare occurrence, 
of two colors, black and white ; the former twice the value of the latter. Six 
beads of the white and three of the black for an English penny. The seawant 
depreciates from time to time. The New England people make use of it as a 



sible how completely his grand project of finance was turned 
against him by his eastern neighbors ; nor would he probably have 
ever found it out, had not tidings been brought him that the Yan- 
kees had made a descent upon Long Island, and had established 
a kind of mint at Oyster Bay, where they were coining up all the 
oyster banks. 

Now this was making a vital attack upon the province in a 
double sense, financial and gastronomical. Ever since the council 
dinner of Oloffe the Dreamer at the founding of New- Amster- 
dam, at which banquet the oyster figured so conspicuously, this 
divine shell-fish has been held in a kind of superstitious reverence 
at the Manhattoes ; as witness the temples erected to its cult in 
every street and lane and alley. In fact it is the standard luxury 
of the place, as is the terrapin at Philadelphia, the soft crab at 
Baltimore, or the canvas-back at "Washington. 

The seizure of Oyster Bay, therefore, was an outrage not 
merely on the pockets, but the larders of the New-Amsterdam- 
mers ; the whole community was aroused, and an oyster crusade 
was immediately set on foot against the Yankees. Every stout 
trencherman hastened to the standard ; nay, some of the most cor- 
pulent Burgomasters and Schepens joined the expedition as a 
corps de reserve, only to be called into action when the sacking 

means of barter, not only to carry away the best cargoes which we send thither, 
but to accumulate a large quantity of beavers and other furs ; by which the 
company is defrauded of her revenues, and the merchants disappointed in 
making returns with that speed with which they might wish to meet their en- 
gagements : while their commissioners and the inhabitants remain overstocked 
with seawant — a sort of currency of no value except with the New-Netherland 
savages, &c. 


The conduct of the expedition was intrusted to a valiant 
Dutchman, who for size and weight might have matched with 
Colbrand the Danish champion, slain by Guy of Warwick. He- 
was famous throughout the province for strength of arm and skill 
at quarter-staff, and hence was named Stoffel Brinkerhoff; or 
rather, Brinkerhoofd ; that is to stay, Stoffel the head-breaker. 

This sturdy commander, who was a man of few words but 
vigorous deeds, led his troops resolutely on through Nineveh, and 
Babylon, and Jericho, and Patch-hog, and other Long Island 
towns, without encountering any difficulty of note ; though it is 
said that some of the burgomasters gave out at Hard-scramble 
Hill and Hungry Hollow ; and that others lost heart and turned 
back at Puss-panick. With the rest he made good his march 
until he arrived in the neighborhood of Oyster Bay. 

Here he was encountered by a host of Yankee warriors 
headed by Preserved Fish, and Habakkuk Nutter, and Return 
Strong, and Zerubbabel Fisk, and Determined Cock ! at the 
sound of whose names Stoffel Brinkerhoff verily believed the 
whole parliament of Praise- God Barebones had been let loose 
upon him. He soon found, however, that they were merely the 
" selectmen " of the settlement, armed with no weapon but the 
tongue, and disposed only to meet him on the field of argument. 
Stoffel had but one mode of arguing ; that was, with the cudgel ; 
but he used it with such effect that he routed his antagonists, 
broke up the settlement, and would have driven the inhabitants 
into the sea if they had not managed to escape across the Sound 
to the mainland by the Devil's stepping-stones, which remain 
to this day monuments of this great Dutch victory over the 

Stoffel Brinkerhoff made great spoil of oysters and clams. 


coined and uncoined, and then set out on his return to the Man- 
hattoes. A grand triumph, after the manner of the ancients, 
was prepared for him by William the Testy. He entered New- 
Amsterdam as a conqueror, mounted on a Narraganset pacer. 
Five dried codfish on poles, standards taken from the enemy, 
were borne before him, and an immense store of oysters and 
clams, Weathersfield onions, and Yankee " notions " formed the 
spolia opima ; while several coiners of oyster-shells were led cap- 
tive to grace the hero's triumph. 

The procession was accompanied by a full band of boys and 
negroes performing on the popular instruments of rattle-bones 
and clam-shells, while Antony Van Corlear sounded his trumpet 
from the ramparts. 

A great banquet was served up in the stadthouse from the 
clams and oysters taken from the enemy; while the governor 
sent the shells privately to the mint and had them coined into 
Indian money, with which he paid his troops. 

It is moreover said that the governor, calling to mind the 
practice among the ancients to honor their victorious general with 
public statues, passed a magnanimous decree, by which every 
tavern-keeper was permitted to paint the head of StofFel Brinker- 
hoff upon his sign ! 



It has been remarked by the observant writer of the Stuyvesant 
manuscript, that under the administration of William Kieft the 
disposition of the inhabitants of New- Amsterdam experienced 
an essential change, so that they became very meddlesome and 
factious. The unfortunate propensity of the little governor to 
experiment and innovation, and the frequent exacerbations of his 
temper, kept his council in a continual worry ; and the council 
being to the people at large what yeast or leaven is to a batch, 
they threw the whole community in a ferment ; and the people at 
large being to the city what the mind is to the body, the unhappy 
commotions they underwent operated most disastrously upon 
New- Amsterdam — insomuch that, in certain of their paroxysms 
of consternation and perplexity, they begat several of the most 
crooked, distorted, and abominable streets, lanes, and alleys, with 
which this metropolis is disfigured. 

The fact was, that about this time the community, like Ba- 
laam's ass, began to grow more enlightened than its rider, and to 
show a disposition for what is called " self-government." This 
restive propensity was first evinced in certain popular meetings, 


in which the burghers of New- Amsterdam met to talk and smoke 
over the complicated affairs of the province, gradually obfuscating 
themselves with politics and tobacco-smoke. Hither resorted 
those idlers and squires of low degree who hang loose on society 
and are blown about by every wind of doctrine. Cobblers aban- 
doned their stalls to give lessons on political economy; black- 
smiths suffered their fires to go out while they stirred up the fires 
of faction ; and even tailors, though said to be the ninth parts of 
humanity, neglected their own measures to criticise the measures 
of government. 

Strange ! that the science of government, which seems to be so 
generally understood, should invariably be denied to the only one 
called upon to exercise it. Not one of the politicians in question, 
but, take his word for it, could have administered affairs ten times 
better than William the Testy. 

Under the instructions of these political oracles the good peo- 
ple of New- Amsterdam soon became exceedingly enlightened ; 
and as a matter of course, exceedingly discontented. They gra- 
dually found out the fearful error in which they had indulged, of 
thinking themselves the happiest people in creation; and were 
convinced that, all circumstances to the contrary notwithstanding, 
they were a very unhappy, deluded, and consequently ruined 
people ! 

We are naturally prone to discontent, and avaricious after 
imaginary causes of lamentation. Like lubberly monks we bela- 
bor our own shoulders, and take a vast satisfaction in the music 
of our own groans. Nor is this said by way of paradox ; daily 
experience shows the truth of these observations. It is almost 
impossible to elevate the spirits of a man groaning under ideal 
calamities ; but nothing is easier than to render him wretched, 


though on the pinnacle of felicity ; as it would be an Herculean 
task to hoist a man to the top of a steeple, though the merest 
child could topple him off thence. 

I must not omit to mention that these popular meetings were 
generally held at some noted tavern ; these public edifices possess- 
ing what in modern times are thought the true fountains of politi- 
cal inspiration. The ancient Germans deliberated upon a matter 
when drunk, and reconsidered it when sober. Mob politicians in 
modern times dislike to have two minds upon a subject ; so they 
both deliberate and act when drunk ; by this means a world of 
delay is spared ; and as it is universally allowed that a man when 
drunk sees double, it follows conclusively that he sees twice as 
well as his sober neighbors. 




Wilhelmus Kieft, as has already been observed, was a great 
legislator on a small scale, and had a microscopic eye in public 
affairs. He had been greatly annoyed by the factious meetings 
of the good people of New- Amsterdam, but, observing that on 
these occasions the pipe was ever in their mouth, he began to 
think that the pipe was at the bottom of the affair, and that there 
was some mysterious affinity between politics and tobacco smoke. 
Determined to strike at the root of the evil, he began, forthwith, to 
rail at tobacco, as a noxious, nauseous weed ; filthy in all its uses ; 
and as to smoking he denounced it as a heavy tax upon the public 
pocket ; a vast consumer of time, a great encourager of idleness, 
and a deadly bane to the prosperity and morals of the people. 
Finally he issued an edict, prohibiting the smoking of tobacco 
throughout the New-Netherlands. Ill fated Kieft ! Had he lived 
in the present age and attempted to check the unbounded license 
of the press, he could not have struck more sorely upon the sensi- 
bilities of the million. The pipe, in fact, was the great organ of 
reflection and deliberation of the New-Netherlander. It was his 
constant companion and solace — was he gay, he smoked ; was he 


sad, he smoked ; his pipe was never out of his mouth ; it was a part 
of his physiognomy ; without it his best friends would not know 
him. Take away his pipe ? You might as well take away his nose ! 

The immediate effect of the edict of William the Testy was a 
popular commotion. A vast multitude armed with pipes and 
tobacco-boxes, and an immense supply of ammunition, sat them- 
selves down before the governor's house, and fell to smoking with 
tremendous violence. The testy William issued forth like a 
wrathful spider, demanding the reason of this lawless fumigation. 
The sturdy rioters replied by lolling back in their seats, and puff- 
ing away with redoubled fury ; raising such, a murky cloud that 
the governor was fain to take refuge in the interior of his castle. 

A long negotiation ensued through the medium of Antony the 
Trumpeter, lie governor was at first wrathful and unyielding, 
but was gradually smoked into terms. He concluded by permit- 
ting the smoking of tobacco, but he abolished the fair long pipes 
used in the days of Wouter Van Twiller, denoting ease, tranquil- 
lity, and sobriety of deportment; these he condemned as in- 
compatible with . the dispatch of business, in place whereof he 
substituted little captious short pipes, two inches in length, which, 
he observed, could be stuck in one corner of the mouth, or twisted 
in the hat-band ; and would never be in the way. Thus ended 
this alarming insurrection, which was long known by the name 
of The Pipe Plot, and which, it has been somewhat quaintly ob- 
served, did end, like most plots and seditions, in mere smoke. 

But mark, oh, reader ! the deplorable evils which did after- 
wards result. The smoke of these villanous little pipes, continu- 
ally ascending in a cloud about the nose, penetrated into and 
befogged the cerebellum ; dried up all the kindly moisture of the 
brain, and rendered the people who used them as vaporish and 


testy as the governor himself. Nay, what is worse, from being 
goodly, burly, sleek-conditioned men, they became, like our Dutch 
yeomanry who smoke short pipes, a lantern-jawed, smoke-dried, 
leathern-hided race. 

Nor was this all. From this fatal schism in tobacco pipes we 
may date the rise of parties in the Nieuw-Nederlands. The 
rich and self-important burghers who had made their fortunes, 
and could afford to be lazy, adhered to the ancient fashion, and 
formed a kind of aristocracy known as the Long Pipes ; while 
the lower order, adopting the reform of William Kieft as more 
convenient in their handicraft employments, were branded with 
the plebeian name of Short Pipes. 

A third party sprang up, headed by the descendants of Eobert 
Che wit, the companion of the great Hudson. These discarded 
pipes altogether and took to chewing tobacco ; hence they were 
called Quids ; an appellation since given to those political mon- 
grels, which sometimes spring up between two great parties, as a 
mule is produced between a horse and an ass. 

And here I would note the great benefit of party distinctions 
in saving the people at large the trouble of thinking. Hesiod 
divides mankind into three classes, those who think for them- 
selves, those who think as others think, and those who do not think 
at all. The second class comprises the great mass of society ; for 
most people require a set creed and a file-leader. Hence the origin 
of party : which means a large body of people, some few of whom 
think, and all the rest talk. The former take the lead and disci- 
pline the latter ; prescribing what they must say ; what they must 
approve ; what they must hoot at ; whom they must support ; 
but, above all, whom they must hate ; for no one can be a right 
good partisan, who is not a thorough-going hater. 


The enlightened inhabitants of the Manhattoes, therefore, 
being divided into parties, were enabled to hate each other with 
great accuracy. And now the great business of politics went 
bravely on, the long pipes and short pipes assembling in separate 
beer-houses, and smoking at each other with implacable vehe- 
mence, to the great support of the state and profit of the tavern- 
keepers. Some, indeed, went so far as to bespatter their adver- 
saries with those odoriferous little words which smell so strong in 
the Dutch language; believing, like true politicians, that they 
served their party, and glorified themselves in proportion as they 
bewrayed their neighbors. But, however they might differ among 
themselves, all parties agreed in abusing the governor ; seeing 
that he was not a governor of their choice, but appointed by others 
to rule over them. 

Unhappy William Kieft! exclaims the sage writer of the 
Stuyvesant manuscript, doomed to contend with enemies too 
knowing to be entrapped, and to reign over a people too wise to 
be governed. All his foreign expeditions were baffled and set at 
naught by the all-pervading Yankees; all his home measures 
were canvassed and condemned by " numerous and respectable 
meetings " of pot-house politicians. 

In the multitude of counselors, we are told, there is safety ; 
but the multitude of counselors was a continual source of per- 
plexity to William Kieft. With a temperament as hot as an old 
radish, and a mind subject to perpetual whirlwinds and tornadoes, 
he never failed "to get into a passion with every one who under- 
took to advise him. I have observed, however, that your pas- 
sionate little men, like small boats with large sails, are easily 
upset or blown out of their course ; so was it with William the 
Testy, who was prone to be carried away by the last piece of 


advice blown into his ear. The consequence was, that, though a 
projector of the first class, yet, by continually changing his pro- 
jects, he gave none a fair trial ; and by endeavoring to do every 
thing, he in sober truth did nothing. 

In the meantime, the sovereign people having got into the 
saddle, showed themselves, as usual, unmerciful riders ; spurring 
on the little governor with harangues and petitions, and thwarting 
him with memorials and reproaches, in much the same way as 
holyday apprentices manage an unlucky devil of a hack-horse— 
so that Wilhelmus Kieft was kept at a worry or a gallop through- 
out the whole of his administration. 





If we could but get a peep at the tally of dame Fortune, where 
like a vigilant landlady she chalks up the debtor and creditor 
accounts of thoughtless mortals, we should find that every good is 
checked off by an evil ; and that however we may apparently 
revel scotfree for a season, the time will come when we must 
ruefully pay off the reckoning. Fortune in fact is a pestilent 
shrew, and withal an inexorable creditor ; and though for a time 
she may be all smiles and curtsies and indulge us in long credits, 
yet sooner or later she brings up her arrears with a vengeance, 
and washes out her scores with our tears. " Since," says good 
old Boetius, " no man can retain her at his pleasure, what are 
her favors but sure prognostications of approaching trouble and 
calamity ?" 

This is the fundamental maxim of that sage school of philo- 
sophers the croakers, who esteem it true wisdom to doubt and 
despond when other men rejoice ; well knowing that happiness is 
at best but transient ; that the higher one is elevated on the see- 


saw balance of fortune, the lower must be bis subsequent depres- 
sion ; that he who is on the uppermost round of a ladder has 
most to suffer from a fall, while he who is at the bottom 
runs very little risk of breaking his neck by tumbling to the 

Philosophical readers of this stamp must have doubtless in- 
dulged in dismal forebodings all through the tranquil reign of 
Walter the Doubter, and considered it what Dutch seamen call a 
weather-breeder. They will not be surprised, therefore, that the 
foul weather which gathered during his clays, should now be rat- 
tling from all quarters on the head of William the Testy. 

The origin of some of these troubles may be traced quite back 
to the discoveries and annexations of Hans Reinier Oothout the 
explorer and Wynant Ten Breeches the land measurer, made in 
the twilight days of Oloffe the Dreamer ; by which the territories 
of the Nieuw Nederlands were carried far to the south, to Dela- 
ware river and parts beyond. The consequence was, many dis- 
putes and brawls with the Indians, which now and then reached 
the drowsy ears of Walter the Doubter and his council, like the 
muttering of distant thunder from behind the mountains, without, 
however, disturbing their repose. It was not till the time of 
William the Testy that the thunderbolt reached the Manhattoes. 
While the little governor was diligently protecting his eastern 
boundaries from the Yankees, word was brought him of the irrup- 
tion of a vagrant colony of Swedes in the south, who had landed 
on the banks of the Delaware and displayed the banner of that 
redoubtable virago Queen Christina, and taken possession of the 
country in her name. These had been guided in their expedition 
by one Peter Minuits or Minnewits, a renegade Dutchman, for- 
merly in the service of their High Mightinesses ; but who now 


declared himself governor of all the surrounding country, to 
which was given the name of the province of New Sweden. 

It is an old saying that " a little pot is soon hot," which was 
the case with William the Testy. Being a little man he was soon 
in a passion, and once in a passion he soon boiled over. Sum- 
moning his council on the receipt of this news, he belabored the 
Swedes in the longest speech that had been heard in the colony 
since the wordy warfare of Ten Breeches and Tough Breeches. 
Having thus taken off the fire-edge of his valor, he resorted to 
his favorite measure of proclamation, and dispatched a document 
of the kind, ordering the renegade Minnewits and his gang of 
Swedish vagabonds to leave the country immediately, under pain 
of the vengeance of their High Mightinesses the Lords States 
General, and of the potentates of the Manhattoes. 

This strong measure was not a whit more effectual than its 
predecessors, which had been thundered against the Yankees ; and 
William Kieft was preparing to follow it up with something still 
more formidable, when he received intelligence of other invaders 
on his southern frontier ; who had taken possession of the banks 
of the Schuylkill, and built a fort there. They were repre- 
sented as a gigantic, gunpowder race of men, exceedingly expert 
at boxing, biting, gouging, and other branches of the rough and 
tumble mode of warfare, which they had learned from their pro- 
totypes and cousins-german, the Virginians, to whom they have 
ever borne considerable resemblance. Like them, too, they were 
great roysters, much given to revel on hoe-cake and bacon, mint- 
julep and apple-toddy; whence their newly-formed colony had 
already acquired the name of Merryland ; which, with a slight 
modification, it retains to the present day. 

In fact the Merrylanders and their cousins, the Virginians, 


were represented to William Kieft as offsets from the same origi- 
nal stock as his bitter enemies the Yanokie, or Yankee tribes of 
the east ; having both come over to this country for the liberty of 
conscience ; or, in other words, to live as they pleased : the Yan- 
kees taking to praying and money-making, and converting quakers ; 
and the Southerners to horse-racing and cock-fighting, and breed- 
ing negroes. 

Against these new invaders Wilhelmus Kieft immediately dis- 
patched a naval armament of two sloops and thirty men, under 
Jan Jansen Alpendam, who was armed to the very teeth with one 
of the little governor's most powerful speeches, written in vigorous 
Low Dutch. 

Admiral Alpendam arrived without accident in the Schuylkill, 
and came upon the enemy just as they were engaged in a great 
" barbecue," a kind of festivity or carouse much practised in 
Merryland. Opening upon them with the speech of William the 
Testy, he denounced them as a pack of lazy, canting, julep-tip- 
pling, cock-fighting, horse-racing, slave-driving, tavern-haunting. 
Sabbath-breaking, mulatto-breeding upstarts ; and concluded by 
ordering them to evacuate the country immediately: to which 

they laconically replied in plain English, " they'd see him d d 


Now this was a reply on which neither Jan Jansen Alpendam 
nor Wilhelmus Kieft had made any calculation. Finding himself, 
therefore, totally unprepared to answer so terrible a rebuff with 
suitable hostility, the admiral concluded his wisest course would 
be to return home and report progress. He accordingly steered 
his course back to New- Amsterdam, where he arrived safe, 
having accomplished this hazardous enterprise at small expense 
of treasure, and no loss of life. His saving policy gained him 


the universal appellation of the Saviour of his Country ; and his 
services were suitably rewarded by a shingle monument, erected 
by subscription on the top of Flattenbarrack-hill, where it immor- 
talized his name for three whole years, when it fell to pieces and 
was burnt for firewood. 





About this time the testy little governor of the New-Netherlands 
appears to have had his hands full, and with one annoyance and 
the other to have been kept continually on the bounce. He was 
on the very point of following up the expedition of Jan Jansen 
Alpendam by some belligerent measures against the marauders 
of Merryland, when his attention was suddenly called away by 
belligerent troubles springing up in another quarter, the seeds of 
which had been sown in the tranquil days of Walter the Doubter. 
The reader will recollect the deep doubt into which that most 
pacific governor was thrown on Killian Yan Rensellaer's taking 
possession of Beam Island by wapen recht. "While the governor 
doubted and did nothing, the lordly Killian went on to complete 
his sturdy little castellum of Renseilaerstein, and to garrison it 
with a number of his tenants from the Helderberg, a mountain 
region famous for the hardest heads and hardest fists in the pro- 
vince. Nicholas Koorn, a faithful squire of the patroon, accus- 
tomed to strut at his heels, wear his cast-off clothes, and imitate 
his lofty bearing, was established in this post as wacht-meester. 


His duty it was to keep an eye on the river and oblige every 
vessel that passed, unless on the service of their High Mighti- 
nesses, to strike its flag, lower its peak, and pay toll to the lord 
of Rensellaerstein. 

This assumption of sovereign authority within the territories 
of the Lords States General, however it might have been tole- 
rated by Walter the Doubter, had been sharply contested by 
William the Testy on coming into office, and many written re- 
monstrances had been addressed by him to Killian Van Rensel- 
laer, to which the latter never deigned a reply. Thus by degrees 
a sore place, or in Hibernian parlance a raw, had been estab- 
lished in the irritable soul of the little governor, insomuch that 
he winced at the very name of Rensellaerstein. 

Now it came to pass, that on a fine sunny day the Company's 
yacht the Half-Moon, having been on one of its stated visits to 
Fort Aurania, was quietly tiding it down the Hudson ; the com- 
mander, Govert Lockerman, a veteran Dutch skipper of few 
words but great bottom, was seated on the high poop, quietly 
smoking his pipe, under the shadow of the proud flag of Orange, 
when, on arriving abreast of Beam Island, he was saluted by a 

stentorian voice from the shore, " Lower thy flag, and be d d 

to thee !" 

Govert Lockerman, without taking his pipe out of his mouth, 
turned up his eye from under his broad-brimmed hat to see who 
hailed him thus discourteously. There, on the ramparts of the 
fort, stood Nicholas Koorn, armed to the teeth, flourishing a 
brass-hilted sword, while a steeple-crowned hat and cock's tail- 
feather, formerly worn by Killian Van Rensellaer himself, gave 
an inexpressible loftiness to his demeanor. 

Govert Lockerman eyed the warrior from top to toe, but was 


not to be dismayed. Taking the pipe slowly out of his mouth, 
" To whom should I lower my flag ?" demanded he. " To the 
high and mighty Killian Van Renssellaer, the lord of Bensel- 
laerstein !" was the reply. 

" I lower it to none but the Prince of Orange and my masters 
the Lords States General." So saying, he resumed his pipe and 
smoked with an air of dogged determination. 

Bang ! went a gun from the fortress ; the ball cut both sail 
and rigging. Govert Lockerman said nothing, but smoked the 
more doggedly. 

Bang ! went another gun ; the shot whistling close astern. 

" Fire, and be d — d," cried Govert Lockerman, cramming a 
new charge of tobacco into his pipe, and smoking with still 
increasing vehemence. 

Bang ! went a third gun. The shot passed over his head, 
tearing a hole in the " princely flag of Orange." 

This was the hardest trial of all for the pride and patience of 
Govert Lockerman ; he maintained a stubborn though swelling 
silence, but his smothered rage might be perceived by the short 
vehement puffs of smoke emitted from his pipe, by which he 
might be tracked for miles, as he slowly floated out of shot and 
out of sight of Beam Island. In fact he never gave vent to his 
passion until he got fairly among the highlands of the Hudson ; 
when he let fly whole volleys of Dutch oaths, which are said to 
linger to this very day among the echoes of the Dunderberg, and to 
give particular effect to the thunder-storms in that neighborhood. 

It was the sudden apparition of Govert Lockerman at Dog's 
Misery, bearing in his hand the tattered flag of Orange, that ar- 
rested the attention of William the Testy, just as he was devising 
a new expedition against the marauders of Merryland. I will 


not pretend to describe the passion of the little man when he 
heard of the outrage of Rensellaerstein. Suffice it to say, in the 
first transports of his fury, he turned Dog's Misery topsy-turvy ; 
kicked every cur out of doors, and threw the cats out of the win- 
dow ; after which, his spleen being in some measure relieved, he 
went into a council of war with Govert Lockerman, the skipper, 
assisted by Antony Van Corlear, the trumpeter. 





The eyes of all New- Amsterdam were now turned to see what 
would be the end of this direful feud between William the Testy 
and the patroon of Rensellaerwick ; and some observing the 
consultations of the governor with the skipper and the trumpet- 
er, predicted warlike measures by sea and land. The wrath of 
William Kieft however, though quick to rise, was quick to 
evaporate. He was a perfect brush-heap in a blaze, snapping 
and crackling for a time and then ending in smoke. Like many 
other valiant potentates, his first thoughts were all for war, his 
sober second thoughts for diplomacy. 

Accordingly, Govert Lockerman was once more dispatched 
up the river in the Company's yacht, the Goed Hoop, bearing 
Antony the Trumpeter as ambassador, to treat with the bellige- 
rent powers of Rensellaerstein In the fullness of time the yacht 
arrived before Beam Island, and Antony the Trumpeter, mounting 
the poop, sounded a parley to the fortress. In a little while the 
steeple-crowned hat of Nicholas Koorn, the wacht-meester, rose 
above the battlements, followed by his iron visage, and ultimately 


his whole person, armed, as before, to the very teeth : while one 
by one a whole row of Helderbergers reared their round burly 
heads above the wall, and beside each pumpkin-head peered the 
end of a rusty musket. Nothing daunted by this formidable 
array, Antony Van Corlear drew forth and read with audible 
voice a missive from William the Testy, protesting against the 
usurpation of Beam Island, and ordering the garrison to quit 
the premises, bag and baggage, on pain of the vengeance of the 
potentate of the Manhattoes. 

In reply the wacht-meester applied the thumb of his right 
hand to the end of his nose, and the thumb of the left hand to 
the little finger of the right, and spreading each hand like a fan 
made an aerial flourish with his fingers. Antony Van Corlear 
was sorely perplexed to understand this sign, which seemed to him 
something mysterious and masonic. Not liking to betray his ig- 
norance, he again read with a loud voice the missive of William 
the Testy, and again Nicholas Koorn applied the thumb of his 
right hand to the end of his nose, and the thumb of his left hand 
to the little finger of the right and repeated this kind of nasal 
weather-cock. Antony Van Corlear now persuaded himself 
that this was some short-hand sign or symbol, current in diplo- 
macy ; which though unintelligible to a new diplomat, like himself, 
would speak volumes to the experienced intellect of Willliam 
the Testy; considering his embassy therefore at an end, he 
sounded his trumpet with great complacency and set sail on Ins 
return down the river, every now and then practising this mys- 
terious sign of the wacht-meester, to keep it accurately in mind. 

Arrived at New Amsterdam he made a faithful report of his 
embassy to the governor, accompanied by a manual exhibition 
of the response of Nicholas Koorn. The governor was equally 


perplexed with his ambassador. He was deeply versed in the 
mysteries of freemasonry ; but they threw no light on the mat- 
ter. He knew every variety of wind-mill and weather-cock, but 
was not a whit the wiser as to the aerial sign in question. He 
had even dabbled in Egyptian hieroglyphics and the mystic sym- 
bols of the obelisks, but none furnished a key to the reply of 
Nicholas Koorn. He called a meeting of his council. Antony 
Van Corlear stood forth in the midst, and putting the thumb of 
his right hand to his nose and the thumb of his left hand to the 
finger of the right, he gave a faithful fac-simile of the portentous 
sign. Having a nose of unusual dimensions it was as if the 
reply had been put in capitals, but all in vain ; the worthy bur- 
gomasters were equally perplexed with the governor. Each 
one put his thumb to the end of his nose, spread his fingers 
like a fan, imitated the motion of Antony Van Corlear, and 
then smoked on in dubious silence. Several times was Antony 
obliged to stand forth like a fugleman and repeat the sign, and 
each time a circle of nasal weather-cocks might be seen in the 
council chamber. 

Perplexed in the extreme, William the Testy sent for all the 
soothsayers, and fortunetellers and wise men of the Manhattoes, 
but none could interpret the mysterious reply of Nicholas 
Koorn. The council broke up in sore perplexity. The matter 
got abroad, Antony Van Corlear was stopped at every corner to 
repeat the signal to a knot of anxious newsmongers, each of 
whom departed with his thumb to his nose and his fingers in the 
air, to carry the story home to his family. For several days all 
business was neglected in New- Amsterdam ; nothing was talked 
of but the diplomatic mission of Antony the Trumpeter, nothing 
was to be seen but knots of politicians with their thumbs to their 


noses. In the meantime the fierce feud between "William the 
Testy and Killian Van Rensellaer, which at first had menaced 
deadly warfare, gradually cooled off, like many other war ques- 
tions, in the prolonged delays of diplomacy. 

Still to this early affair of Kensellaerstein may be traced the 
remote origin of those windy wars in modern days which rage 
in the bowels of the Helderberg, and have well nigh shaken 
the great patroonship of the Van Rensellaers to its foundation ; 
for we are told that the bully boys of the Helderberg, who 
served under Nicholas Koorn the wacht-meester, carried back to 
their mountaius the hieroglyphic sign which had so sorely puz- 
zled Antony Van Corlear and the sages of the Manhattoes ; so 
that to the present day the thumb to the nose and the fingers in 
the air is apt to be the reply of the Helderbergers whenever 
called upon for any long arrears of rent. 




It was asserted by the wise men of ancient times, who had a 
nearer opportunity of ascertaining the fact, that at the gate of 
Jupiter's palace lay two huge tuns, one filled with blessings, 
the other with misfortunes ; and it would verily seem as if the 
latter had been completely overturned and left to deluge the 
unlucky province of Nieuw-Nederlands : for about this time, while 
harassed and annoyed from the south and the north, incessant forays 
were made by the border chivalry of Connecticut upon the pig- 
styes and hen-roosts of the Nederlanders. Every day or two 
some broad-bottomed express-rider, covered with mud and mire, 
would come floundering into the gate of New- Amsterdam, freighted 
with some new tale of aggression from the frontier ; whereupon 
Antony Van Corlear, seizing his trumpet, the only substitute for 
a newspaper in those primitive days, would sound the tidings 
from the ramparts with such doleful notes and disastrous cadence, 
as to throw half the old women in the city into hysterics ; all 
which tended greatly to increase his popularity ; there being- 
nothing for which the public are more grateful than being fre- 
quently treated to a panic ; a secret well known to modern editors. 


But, oh ye powers ! into what a paroxysm of passion did 
each new outrage of the Yankees throw the choleric little gov- 
ernor ! Letter after letter, protest after protest, bad Latin, worse 
English, and hideous Low Dutch, were incessantly fulminated 
upon them, and the four-and-twenty letters of the alphabet, which 
formed his standing army, were worn out by constant campaign- 
ing. All, however, was ineffectual ; even the recent victory at 
Oyster Bay, which had shed such a gleam of sunshine between 
the clouds of his foul weather reign, was soon followed by a more 
fearful gathering up of those clouds, and indications of more por- 
tentous tempest; for the Yankee tribe on the banks of the Con- 
necticut, finding on this memorable occasion their incompetency to 
cope in fair fight with the sturdy chivalry of the Manhattoes, had 
called to their aid all the ten tribes of their brethren, who inhabit 
the east country, which from them has derived the name of 
Yankee land. This call was promptly responded to. The conse- 
quence was a great confederacy of the tribes of Massachusetts, 
Connecticut, New-Plymouth and New-Haven, under the title of 
the " United Colonies of New-England ;" the pretended object of 
which was mutual defence against the savages ; but the real object 
the subjugation of the Nieuw-Nedeiiands. 

For, to let the reader into one of the great secrets of history, 
the Nieuw-Nederlands had long been regarded by the whole 
Yankee race as the modern land of promise, and themselves as 
the chosen and peculiar people destined, one day or other, by hook 
or by crook, to get possession of it. In truth they are a wonder- 
ful and all-prevalent people ; of that class who only require an 
inch to gain an ell, or a halter to gain a horse. From the time 
they first gained a foothold on Plymouth Rock, they began to 
migrate, progressing and progressing from place to place, and land 



to land, making a little here and a little there, and controverting 
the old proverb, that a rolling stone gathers no moss. Hence 
they have facetiously received the nickname of The Pilgrims : 
that is to say, a people who are always seeking a better country 
than their own. 

The tidings of this great Yankee league struck William Kieft 
with dismay, and for once in his life he forgot to bounce on 
receiving a disagreeable piece of intelligence. In fact, on turning 
over in his mind all that he had read at the Hague about leagues 
and combinations, he found that this was a counterpart of the 
Amphictyonic league, by which the states of Greece attained such 
power and supremacy ; and the very idea made his heart quake 
for the safety of his empire at the Manhattoes. 

The affairs of the confederacy were managed by an annual 
council of delegates held at Boston, which Kieft denominated the 
Delphos of this truly classic league. The very first meeting gave 
evidence of hostility to theNieuw-Nederlanders, who were charged 
in their dealings with the Indians, with carrying on a traffic in 
" guns, powther and shott — a trade damnable and injurious to the 
colonists." It is true the Connecticut traders were fain to dabble 
a little in this damnable traffic ; but then they always dealt in 
what were termed Yankee guns ; ingeniously calculated to burst 
in the pagan hands which used them. 

The rise of this potent confederacy was a death-blow to the 
glory of William the Testy, for from that day forward he never 
held up his head, but appeared quite crest-fallen. It is true, as 
the grand council augmented in power, and the league rolling 
onward, gathered about the red hills of New-Haven, threatening 
to overwhelm the Meuw-Nederlands, he continued occasionally 
to fulminate proclamations and protests, as a shrewd sea-captain 



fires his guns into a water-spout ; but alas ! they had no more 
effect than so many blank cartridges. 

Thus end the authenticated chronicles of the reign of William 
the Testy ; for henceforth, in the troubles, perplexities, and con- 
fusion of the times, he seems to have been totally overlooked, and 
to have slipped for ever through the fingers of scrupulous history. 
It is a matter of deep concern that such obscurity should hang 
over his latter days ; for he was in truth a mighty and great little 
man, and worthy of being utterly' renowned, seeing that he was 
the first potentate that introduced into this land the art of fighting 
by proclamation, and defending a country by trumpeters and 

It is true, that certain of the early provincial poets, of whom 
there were great numbers in the Nieuw-Nederlands, taking advan- 
tage of his mysterious exit, have fabled that, like Romulus, he 
was translated to the skies, and forms a very fiery little star, 
somewhere on the left claw of the crab ; while others, equally 
fanciful, declare that he had experienced a fate similar to that of 
the good king Arthur ; who, we are assured by ancient bards, 
was carried away to the delicious abodes of fairy land, where he 
Still exists, in pristine worth and vigor, and will one day or 
another return to restore the gallantry, the honor, and the imma- 
culate probity, which prevailed in the glorious days of the Round 

* The old Welsh bards believed that king Arthur was not dead, but carried 
awaie by the fairies into some pleasant place, where he sholde remaine for a 
time, and then returne againe^nd reigne in as great authority as ever. — Hol- 


The Britons suppose that he shall come yet and conquere all Britaigne, for 
certes, this is the prophicye of Merlyn — He say'd that his deth shall be doubt- 


All these, however, are but pleasing fantasies, the cobweb 
visions of those dreaming varlets, the poets, to which I would not 
have my judicious reader attach any credibility. Neither am I 
disposed to credit an ancient and rather apocryphal historian, 
who asserts that the ingenious Wilhelmus was annihilated by the 
blowing down of one of his wind-mills ; nor a writer of later times, 
who affirms that he fell a victim to an experiment in natural 
history, having the misfortune to break his neck from a garret 
window of the stadthouse in -attempting to catch swallows by 
sprinkling salt upon their tails. Still less do I put my faith in 
the tradition that he perished at sea in conveying home to Hol- 
land a treasure of golden ore, discovered somewhere among the 
haunted regions of the Catskill mountains.* 

eous ; and said soth, for men thereof yet have doubte and shullen for ever 
more — for men wyt not whether that he lyveth or is dede. — De Leew. Cheon. 
* Diedrich Knickerbocker, in his scrupulous search after truth, is sometimes 
too fastidious in regard to facts which border a little on the marvelous. The 
story of the golden ore rests on something better than mere tradition. The 
venerable Adrian Van der Donck, Doctor of Laws, in his description of the 
New Netherlands, asserts it from his own observation as an eye-witness. He 
was present, he says, in 1645 at a treaty between Governor Kieft and the Mo- 
hawk Indians, in which one of the latter, in painting himself for the ceremony, 
used a pigment the weight and shining appearance of which excited the curi- 
osity of the governor and Mynheer Van der Donck. They obtained a lump 
and gave it to be proved by a skillful doctor of medicine, Johannes de la 
Montague, one of the councilors of the New Netherlands. It was put into a 
crucible, and yielded two pieces of gold worth about three guilders. All this, 
continues Adrian Van der Donck, was kept secret. As soon as peace was 
made with the Mohawks, an officer and a few men were sent to the mountain 
(in the region of the Kaatskill) under the guidance of an Indian, to search for 
the precious mineral. They brought back a bucket full of ore ; which being 
submitted to the crucible, proved as productive as the first. William Kieft now 
thought the discovery certain. He sent a confidential person, Arent Corsen, 


The most probable account declares, that what with the 
constant troubles on his frontiers — the incessant schemings and 
projects going on in his own pericranium — the memorials, peti- 
tions, remonstrances, and sage pieces of advice of respectable 
meetings of the sovereign people, and the refractory disposition of 
his councilors, who were sure to differ from him on every point, 
and uniformly to be in the wrong — his mind was kept in a fur- 
nace heat, until he became as completely burnt out as a Dutch 
family pipe which has passed through three generations of hard 
smokers. In this manner did he undergo a kind of animal com- 
bustion, consuming away like a farthing rush-light — so that when 
grim death finally snuffed him out, there was scarce left enough 
of him to bury ! 

with a bag full of the mineral, to New-Haven, to take passage in an English 
ship for England, thence to proceed to Holland. The vessel sailed at Christ- 
mas, but never reached her port. All on board perished. 

In the year 1 647, Wilhelmus Kieft himself embarked on board the Princess, 
taking with him specimens of the supposed mineral. The ship was never 
heard of more ! 

Some have supposed that the mineral in question was not gold, but pyrites ; 
but we have the assertion of Adrian Van der Donck, an eye-witness, and the 
experiment of Johannes de la Montagne, a learned doctor of medicine, on the 
golden side of the question. Cornelius Van Tienhooven, also, at that time 
secretary of the New-Netherlands, declared in Holland that he had tested 
several specimens of the mineral, which proved satisfactory.* 

It would appear, however, that these golden treasures of the Kaatskill 
always brought ill luck ; as is evidenced in the fate of Arent Corsen and Wil- 
helmus Kieft, and the wreck of the ships in which they attempted to convey 
the treasure across the ocean. The golden mines have never since been j 
explored, but remain among the mysteries of the Kaatskill mountains, 'and 
under the protection of the goblins which haunt them. 

* See Van der Donck's Description of the New-Netherlands. Collect. New-York Hist 
Seciety, Vol. I. p. 161. j 





To a profound philosopher like myself, who am apt- to see clear 
through a subject, where the penetration of ordinary people ex- 
tends but half way, there is no fact more simple and manifest than 
that the death of a great man is a matter of very little importance. 
Much as we may think of ourselves, and much as we may excite 
the empty plaudits of the million, it is certain that the greatest 
among us do actually fill but an exceeding small space in the 
world ; and it is equally certain, that even that small space is 
quickly supplied when we leave it vacant. " Of what conse- 
quence is it," said Pliny, " that individuals appear, or make their 
exit ? the world is a theatre whose scenes and actors are continu- 


ally changing." Never did philosopher speak more correctly, 
and I only wonder that so wise a remark could have existed so 
many ages, and mankind not have laid it more to heart. Sage 
follows on in the footsteps of sage ; one hero just steps out of his 
triumphal car, to make way for the hero who comes after him ; 
and of the proudest monarch it is merely said that, " he slept 
with his fathers, and his successor reigned in his stead." 

The world, to tell the private truth, cares but little for their 
loss, and if left to itself would soon forget to grieve, and though 
a nation has often been figuratively drowned in tears on the 
death of a great man, yet it is ten to one if an individual tear has 
been shed on the occasion, excepting from the forlorn pen of some 
hungry author. It is the historian, the biographer, and the poet, 
who have the whole burden of grief to sustain ; who — kind souls ! 
— like undertakers in England, act the part of chief mourners — 
who inflate a nation with sighs it never heaved, and deluge it with 
tears it never dreamt of shedding. Thus, while the patriotic 
author is weeping and howling, in prose, in blank verse, and in 
rhyme, and collecting the drops of public sorrow into his volume, 
as into a lachrymal vase, it is more than probable his fellow-citi- 
zens are eating and drinking, fiddling and dancing, as utterly 
ignorant of the bitter lamentations made in their name, as are 
those men of straw, John Doe and Richard Roe, of the plaintiffs 
for whom they are generously pleased to become sureties. 

The most glorious hero that ever desolated nations might have 
mouldered into oblivion among the rubbish of his own monument, 
did not some historian take him into favor, and benevolently 
transmit his name to posterity — and much as the valiant William 
Kieft worried, and bustled, and turmoiled, while he had the desti- 
nies of a whole colony in his hand, I question seriously whether 


he will not be obliged to this authentic history for all his future 

His exit occasioned no convulsion in the city of New- Amster- 
dam nor its vicinity : the earth trembled not, neither did any stars 
shoot from their spheres — the heavens were not shrouded in 
black, as poets would fain persuade us they have been, on the 
death of a hero — the rocks (hard-hearted varlets !) melted not 
into tears, nor did the trees hang their heads in silent sorrow ; 
and as to the sun, he lay a-bed the next night just as long, 
and showed as jolly a face when he rose, as he ever did on the 
same day of the month in any year, either before or since. The 
good people of New- Amsterdam, one and all, declared that he 
had been a very busy, active, bustling little governor ; that 
he was " the father of his country " — that he was " the noblest 
work of God " — that " he was a man, take him for all in all, they 
ne'er should look upon his like again " — together with sundry 
other civil and affectionate speeches regularly said on the death 
of all great men ; after which they smoked their pipes, thought 
no more about him, and Peter Stuyvesant succeeded to his 

Peter Stuyvesant was the last, and, like the renowned Wouter 
Van Twiller, the best of our ancient Dutch governors. Wouter 
having surpassed all who preceded him, and Pieter or Piet, as he 
was sociably called by the old Dutch burghers, who were ever 
prone to familiarize names, having never been equalled by any 
successor. He was in fact the very man fitted by nature to re- 
trieve the desperate fortunes of her beloved province, had not the 
fates, those most potent and unrelenting of all ancient spinsters, 
destined them to inextricable confusion. 

To say merely that he was a hero would be doing him 


great injustice — lie was in truth a combination of heroes — for he 
was of a sturdy, rawboned make like Ajax Telamon, with a pair 
of round shoulders that Hercules would have given his hide for 
(meaning his lion's hide,) when he undertook to ease old Atlas 
of his load. He was, moreover, as Plutarch describes Coriola- 
nus, not only terrible for the force of his arm, but likewise of his 
voice, which sounded as though it came out of a barrel ; and, like 
the self-same warrior, he possessed a sovereign contempt for the 
sovereign people, and an iron aspect, which was enough of itself 
to make the very bowels of his adversaries quake with terror and 
dismay. All this martial excellency of appearance was inex- 
pressibly heightened by an accidental advantage, with which I 
am surprised that neither Homer nor Yirgil have graced any of 
their heroes. This was nothing less than a wooden leg, which 
was the only prize he had gained in bravely fighting the battles 
of his country, but of which he was so proud, that he was often 
heard to declare he valued it more than all his other limbs put 
together ; indeed so highly did he esteem it, that he had it gal- 
lantly enchased and relieved with silver devices, which caused it 
to be related in divers histories and legends that he wore a sil- 
ver leg.* 

Like that choleric warrior Achilles, he was somewhat subject 
to extempore bursts of passion, which were rather unpleasant 
to his favorites and attendants, whose perceptions he was apt to 
quicken, after the manner of his illustrious imitator, Peter the 
Great, by anointing their shoulders with his walking-staff. 

Though I cannot find that he had read Plato, or Aristotle, 
or Hobbes, or Bacon, or Algernon Sydney, or Tom Paine, yet 

* See the histories of Masters Josselyn and Blome. 


did he sometimes manifest a shrewdness and sagacity in his 
measures, that one would hardly expect from a man who did not 
know Greek, and had never studied the ancients. True it is, 
and I confess it with sorrow, that he had an unreasonable aver- 
sion to experiments, and was fond of governing his province 
after the simplest manner — but then he contrived to keep it in 
better order than did the erudite Kieft, though he had all the 
philosophers, ancient and modern, to assist and perplex him. 
I must likewise own that he made but very few laws, but then 
again he took care that those few were rigidly and impartially 
enforced — and I do not know but justice on the whole was as 
well administered as if there had been volumes of sage acts and 
statutes yearly made, and daily neglected and forgotten. 

He was, in fact, the very reverse of his predecessors, being 
neither tranquil and inert, like Walter the Doubter, nor restless 
and fidgeting, like William the Testy ; but a man, or rather a 
governor, of such uncommon activity and decision of mind, that 
he never sought nor accepted the advice of others ; depending 
bravely upon his single head as would a hero of yore upon his 
single arm, to carry him through all difficulties and dangers. To 
tell the simple truth he wanted nothing more to complete him as 
a statesman than to think always right, for no one can say but 
that he always acted as he thought. He was never a man to 
flinch when he found himself in a scrape ; but to dash forward 
through thick and thin, trusting, by hook or by crook, to make 
all things straight in the end. In a word, he possessed in an 
eminent degree tha,t great quality in a statesman, called perse- 
verance by the polite, but nicknamed obstinacy by the vulgar. 
A wonderful salve for official blunders ; since he who perseveres 
in error without flinching, gets the credit of boldness and consis- 


tency, while he who wavers in seeking to do what is right gets 
stigmatized as a trimmer. This much is certain; and it is a 
maxim well worthy the attention of all legislators great and 
small, who stand shaking in the wind, irresolute which way to 
steer, that a ruler who follows his own will pleases himself, while 
he who seeks to satisfy the wishes and whims of others runs great 
risk of pleasing nobody. There is nothing too like putting down 
one's foot resolutely, when in doubt ; and letting things take their 
course. The clock that stands still points right twice in the four 
and twenty hours : while others may keep going continually and 
be continually going wrong. 

Nor did this magnanimous quality escape the discernment of 
the good people of Nieuw-Nederlands ; on the contrary, so much 
were they struck with the independent will and vigorous resolu- 
tion displayed on all occasions by their new governor, that they 
universally called him Hard-Koppig Piet ; or Peter the Head- 
strong — a great compliment to the strength of his understanding. 

If, from all that I have said, thou dost not gather, worthy 
reader, that Peter Stuyvesant was a tough, sturdy, valiant, 
weather-beaten, mettlesome, obstinate, leathern-sided, lion-hearted, 
generous-spirited old governor, either I have written to but little 
purpose, or thou art very dull at drawing conclusions. 

This most excellent governor commenced his administration 
on the 29th of May, 1647; a remarkably stormy day, distin- 
guished in all the almanacs of the time which have come down 
to us by the name of Windy Friday. As he was very jealous 
of his personal and official dignity, he was inaugurated into office 
with great ceremony ; the goodly oaken chair of the renowned 
Wouter Van Twiller being carefully preserved for such occasions, 
in like manner as the chair and stone were' reverentially pre- 


served at Scheme, in Scotland, for the coronation of the Caledo- 
nian monarchs. 

I must not omit to mention, that the tempestuous state of the 
elements, together with its being that unlucky day of the week 
termed " hanging day," did not fail to excite much grave 
speculation and divers very reasonable apprehensions among the 
more ancient and enlightened inhabitants ; and several of the 
sager sex, who were reputed to be not a little skilled in the mys- 
teries of astrology and fortunetelling, did declare outright that 
they were omens of a disastrous administration — an event that 
came to be lamentably verified, and which proves, beyond dispute, 
the wisdom of attending to those preternatural intimations fur- 
nished by dreams and visions, the flying of birds, falling of stones, 
and cackling of geese, on which the sages and rulers of ancient 
times placed such reliance — or to those shootings of stars, eclipses 
of the moon, howlings of dogs, and flarings of candles, carefully 
noted and interpreted by the oracular sybils of our day ; who, in 
my humble opinion, are the legitimate inheritors and preservers 
of the ancient science of divination. This much is certain, that 
Governor Stuyvesant succeeded to the chair of state at a turbu- 
lent period ; when foes thronged and threatened from without ; 
when anarchy and stiff-necked opposition reigned rampant within ; 
when the authority of their High Mightinesses the Lords States- 
General, though supported by economy, and defended by speeches, 
protests and proclamations, yet tottered to its very centre ; and 
when the great city of New-Amsterdam, though fortified by flag- 
staffs, trumpeters, and wind-mills, seemed, like some fair lady of 
easy virtue, to lie open to attack, and ready to yield to the first 



The very first movements of the great Peter, on taking the reins 
of government, displayed his magnanimity, though they occa- 
sioned not a little marvel and uneasiness among the people of the 
Manhattoes. Finding himself constantly interrupted by the op- 
position, and annoyed by the advice of his privy council, the 
members of which had acquired the unreasonable habit of think- 
ing and speaking for themselves during the preceding reign, he 
determined at once to put a stop to such grievous abominations. 
Scarcely, therefore, had he entered upon his authority, than he 
turned out of office all the meddlesome spirits of the factious cab- 
inet of William the Testy ; in place of whom he chose unto 
himself counselors from those fat, somniferous, respectable 
burghers who had flourished and slumbered under the easy reign 
of Walter the Doubter. All these he caused to be furnished 
with abundance of fair long pipes, and to be regaled with fre- 
quent corporation dinners, admonishing them to smoke, and eat, 
and sleep, for the good of the nation, while he took the burden of 


government upon his own shoulders — an arrangement to which 
they all gave hearty acquiescence. 

Nor did he stop here, but made a hideous rout among the 
inventions and expedients of his learned predecessor — rooting 
up his patent gallows, where caitiff vagabonds were suspended by 
the waistband — demolishing his flag-staffs and wind-mills, which, 
like mighty giants, guarded the ramparts of New- Amsterdam — 
pitching to the duyvel whole batteries of quaker guns — and, in a 
word, turning topsy-turvy the whole philosophic, economic, and 
wind-mill system of the immortal sage of Saardam. 

The honest folk of New- Amsterdam began to quake now for 
the fate of their matchless champion, Antony the Trumpeter, 
who had acquired prodigious favor in the eyes of the women, by 
means of his whiskers and his trumpet. Him did Peter the 
Headstrong cause to be brought into his presence, and eyeing 
him for a moment from head to foot, with a countenance that 
would have appalled any thing else than a sounder of brass — 
" Pr'ythee, who and what art thou ?" said he. " Sire," replied 
the other, in no wise dismayed, " for my name, it is Anthony Van 
Corlear — for my parentage, I am the son of my mother — for my 
profession, I am champion and garrison of this great city of New- 
Amsterdam." " I doubt me much," said Peter Stuyvesant, " that 
thou art some scurvy costard-monger knave: — how didst thou 
acquire this paramount honor and dignity ?" " Marry, sir," re- 
plied the other, " like many a great man before me, simply by 
sounding my own trumpet.'" " Ay, is it so ?" quoth the governor ; 
" why then let us have a relish of thy art." Whereupon the 
good Antony put his instrument to his lips, and sounded a charge 
with such a tremendous outset, such a delectable quaver, and such 

a triumphant cadence, that it was enough to make one's heart leap 



out of one's mouth only to be within a mile of it. Like as a war- 
worn charger, grazing in peaceful plains, starts at a strain of 
martial music, pricks up his ears, and snorts, and paws, and kin- 
dles at the noise, so did the heroic Peter joy to hear the clangor 
of the trumpet ; for of him might truly be said, what was recorded 
of the renowned St. George of England, " there was nothing in 
all the world that more rejoiced his heart than to hear the pleasant 
sound of war, and see the soldiers brandish forth their steeled 
weapons." Casting his eye more kindly, therefore, upon the 
sturdy Van Corlear, and finding him to be a jovial varlet, 
shrewd in his discourse, yet of great discretion and immeasurable 
wind, he straightway conceived a vast kindness for him, and dis- 
charging him from the troublesome duty of garrisoning, defend 
ing, and alarming the city, ever after retained him about his 
person, as his chief favorite, confidential envoy, and trusty squire 
Instead of disturbing the city with disastrous notes, he was in 
structed to play so as to delight the governor while at his repasts, 
as did the minstrels of yore in the days of glorious chivalry — and 
on all public occasions to rejoice the ears of the people with war- 
like melody — thereby keeping alive a noble and martial spirit. 

But the measure of the valiant Peter which produced the 
greatest agitation in the community, was his laying his hand upon 
the currency. He had old-fashioned notions in favor of gold and 
silver, which he considered the true standards of wealth and me- 
diums of commerce, and one of his first edicts was, that all duties 
to government should be paid in those precious metals, and thft 
seawant, or wampum, should no longer be a legal tender. 

Here was a blow at public prosperity ! All those who specu- 
lated on the rise and tall of this fluctuating currency, found their 
calling at an end : those, too, who had hoarded Indian money by 


barrels full, found their capital shrunk in amount ; but, above all, 
the Yankee traders, who were accustomed to flood the market 
with newly-coined oyster-shells, and to abstract Dutch merchan- 
dise in exchange, were loud-mouthed in decrying this " tampering 
with the currency." It was clipping the wings of commerce ; it 
was checking the development of public prosperity ; trade would 
be at an end ; goods would moulder on the shelves ; grain would 
rot in the granaries ; grass would grow in the market-place. In 
a word, no one who has not heard the outcries and howlings of a 
modern Tarshish, at any check upon " paper money," can have 
any idea of the clamor against Peter the Headstrong, for checking 
the circulation of oyster-shells. 

In fact, trade did shrink into narrower channels ; but then the 
stream was deep as it was broad ; the honest Dutchmen sold less 
goods ; but then they got the worth of them, either in silver and 
gold, or in codfish, tin-ware, apple-brandy, "Weathersfield onions, 
wooden bowls, and other articles of Yankee barter. The ingeni- 
ous people of the east, however, indemnified themselves in another 
way for having to abandon the coinage of oyster-shells, for about 
this time we are told that wooden nutmegs made their first ap- 
pearance in New- Amsterdam, to the great annoyance of the Dutch 


From a manuscript record of the province ; Lib. N. T. Hist. Society. — 
We have been unable to render your inhabitants wiser and prevent their being 
farther imposed upon than to declare absolutely and peremptorily that hencefor- 
ward seawant shall be bullion — not longer admissible in trade, without any 
value, as it is indeed. So that every one may be upon his guard to barter no 
longer away his wares and merchandises for these bubbles — at least not to 


accept them at a higher rate or in a larger quantity than as they may want 
them in their trade with the savages. 

In this way your English [Yankee] neighbors shall no longer be enabled to 
draw the best wares and merchandises from our country for nothing— the 
beavers and furs not excepted. This has indeed long since been insufferable, 
although it ought chiefly to be imputed to the imprudent penuriousness of our 
own merchants and inhabitants, who, it is to be hoped, shall through the abo- 
lition of this seawant become wiser and more prudent. 

27th January, 1662. 

Seawant falls into disrepute — duties to be paid in silver coin. 



Now it came to pass, that while Peter Stuyvesant was busy 
regulating the internal affairs of his domain, the great Yankee 
league, which had caused such tribulation to William the Testy, 
continued to increase in extent and power. The grand Amphic- 
tyonic council of the league was held at Boston, where it spun a 
web, which threatened to link within it all the mighty principali- 
ties and powers of the east. The object proposed by this formi- 
dable combination was mutual protection and defence against 
their savage neighbors ; but all the world knows the real aim was 
to form a grand crusade against the Nieuw-JSTederlands and to get 
possession of the city of the Manhattoes — as devout an object of 
enterprise and ambition to the Yankees as was ever the capture 
of Jerusalem to ancient crusaders. 

In the very year following the inauguration of Governor 
Stuyvesant, a grand deputation departed from the city of Provi- 
dence (famous for its dusty streets and beauteous women) in 
behalf of the plantation of Rhode Island, praying to be admitted 
into the league. 


The following minute of this deputation appears in the ancient 
records of the council.* 

" Mr. Will. Cottington and Captain Partridg of Rhoode Island 
presented this insewing request to the commissioners in wright- 

" Our request and motion is in behalfe of Rhoode Hand, that 
wee the Ilanders of Roode-Iland may be rescauied into combina- 
tion with all the united colonyes of New England in a firme and 
perpetual league of friendship and amity of ofence and defence, 
mutuall advice and succor upon all just occasions for our mutuall 
safety and wellfaire, etc. 

" Will Cottington, 

" Alicxsander Partridg." 

There was certainly something in the very physiognomy of 
this document that might well inspire apprehension. The name 
of Alexander, however misspelt, has been warlike in every age, 
and though its fierceness is in some measure softened by being 
coupled with the gentle cognomen of Partridge, still, like the 
color of scarlet, it bears an exceeding great resemblance to the 
sound of a trumpet. Prom the style of the letter, moreover, and 
the soldierlike ignorance of orthography displayed by the noble 
captain Alicxsander Partridg in spelling his own name, we may 
picture to ourselves this mighty man of Rhodes, strong in arms, 
potent in the field, and as great a scholar as though he had been 
educated among that learned people of Thrace, who, Aristotle 
assures us, could not count beyond the number four. 

The result of this great Yankee league was augmented auda- 

* Haz. Col. Stat. Pap. 


city on the part of the moss-troopers of Connecticut — pushing 
their encroachments farther and farther into the territories of 
their High Mightinesses, so that even the inhabitants of New- 
Amsterdam began to draw short breath and to find themselves 
exceedingly cramped for elbow-room. 

Peter Stuyvesant was not a man to submit quietly to such 
intrusions ; his first impulse was to march at once to the frontier 
and kick these squatting Yankees out of the country ; but, be- 
thinking himself in time that he was now a governor and legis- 
lator, the policy of the statesman for once cooled the fire of the 
old soldier, and he determined to try his hand at negotiation. A 
correspondence accordingly ensued between him and the grand 
council of the league, and it was agreed that commissioners from 
either side should meet at Hartford, to settle boundaries, adjust 
grievances, and establish a " perpetual and happy peace." 

The commissioners on the part of the Manhattoes were chosen, 
according to immemorial usage of that venerable metropolis, from 
among the " wisest and weightiest" men of the community ; that is 
to say, men with the oldest heads and heaviest pockets. Among 
these sages the veteran navigator, Hans Reinier Oothout, who 
had made such extensive discoveries during the time of Oloffe the 
Dreamer, was looked up to as an oracle in all matters of the kind; 
and he was ready to produce the very spy-glass with which he 
first spied the mouth of the Connecticut River from his mast- 
head, and all the world knows that the discovery of the mouth of 
a river gives prior right to all the lands drained by its waters. 

It was with feelings of pride and exultation that the good 
people of the Manhattoes saw two of the richest and most pon- 
derous burghers departing on this embassy ; men whose word on 
'change was oracular, and in whose presence no poor man ventured 


to appear without taking off his hat : when it was seen, too, that 
the veteran Beinier Oothout accompanied them with his spy-glass 
under his arm, all the old men and old women predicted that men 
of such weight, with such evidence, would leave the Yankees no 
alternative but to pack up their tin kettles and wooden wares ; 
put wife and children in a cart, and abandon all the lands of their 
High Mightinesses, on which they had squatted. 

In truth, the commissioners sent to Hartford by the league, 
seemed in nowise calculated to compete with men of such capacity. 
They were two lean Yankee lawyers, litigious-looking variets, and 
evidently men of no substance, since they had no rotundity in the 
belt, and there was no jingling of money in their pockets ; it is 
true they had longer heads than the Dutchmen ; but if the heads 
of the latter were flat at top, they were broad at bottom, and what, 
was wanting in height of forehead, was made up by a double 

The negotiation turned as usual upon the good old corner- 
stone of original discovery ; according to the principle that he 
who first sees a new country, has an unquestionable right to it. 
This being admitted, the veteran Oothout, at a concerted signal, 
stepped forth in the assembly with the identical tarpauling spy 
glass in his hand, with which he had discovered the mouth of the 
Connecticut, while the worthy Dutch commissioners lolled back in 
their chairs, secretly chuckling at the idea of having for once got 
the weather-gage of the Yankees ; but what was their dismay 
when the latter produced a Nantucket whaler with a spy-glass, 
twice as long, with which he discovered the whole coast, quite 
down to the Manhattoes ; and so crooked that he had spied with 
it up the whole course of the Connecticut River. This principle 
pushed home, therefore, the Yankees had a right to the whole 



country bordering on the Sound ; nay, the city of New- Amster- 
dam was a mere Dutch squatting-place on their territories. 

I forbear to dwell upon the confusion of the worthy Dutch 
commissioners at finding their main pillar of proof thus knocked 
from under them ; neither will I pretend to describe the conster- 
nation of the wise men at the Manhattoes when they learnt how 
their commissioner had been out-trumped by the Yankees, and 
how the latter pretended to claim to the very gates of New- 

Long was the negotiation protracted, and long was the public 
mind kept in a state of anxiety. There are two modes of settling 
boundary questions when the claims of the opposite parties are 
irreconcilable. One is by an appeal to arms, in which case the 
weakest party is apt to lose its right, and get a broken head into 
the bargain ; the other mode is by compromise, or mutual conces- 
sion ; that is to say, one party cedes half of its claims, and the 
other party half of its rights ; he who grasps most gets most, and 
the whole is pronounced an equitable division, "perfectly honora- 
ble to both parties." 

The latter mode was adopted in the present instance. The 
Yankees gave up claims to vast tracts of the Nieuw-Nederlands 
which they had never seen, and all right to the island of Manna- 
hata and the city of New- Amsterdam, to which they had no right 
at all ; while the Dutch, in return, agreed that the Yankees 
should retain possession of the frontier places where they had 
squatted, and of both sides of the Connecticut river. 

When the news of this treaty arrived at New- Amsterdam, 
the. whole city was in an uproar of exultation. The old women 
rejoiced that there was to be no war, the old men that their cab- 
bage-gardens were safe from invasion ; while the political sages 



pronounced the treaty a great triumph over the Yankees, consid- 
ering how much they had claimed, and how little they had been 
" fobbed off with." 

And now my worthy reader is, doubtless, like the great and 
good Peter, congratulating himself with the idea, that his feelings 
will no longer be harassed by afflicting details of stolen horses, 
broken heads, impounded hogs, and all the other catalogue of 
heart-rending cruelties that disgraced these border wars. But if 
he should indulge in such expectations, it is a proof that he is 
but little versed in the paradoxical ways of cabinets ; to convince 
him of which, I solicit his serious attention to my next chapter, 
wherein I will show that Peter Stuyvesant has already committed 
a great error in politics ; and by effecting a peace, has materially 
hazarded the tranquillity of the province. 




It was the opinion of that poetical philosopher, Lucretius, that 
war was the original state of man, whom he described as being 
primitively a savage beast of prey, engaged in a constant state of 
hostility with his own species, and that this ferocious spirit was 
tamed and ameliorated by society. The same opinion has been 
advocated by Hobbes,* nor have there been wanting many 
other philosophers to admit and defend it. 

For my part, though prodigiously fond of these valuable 
speculations, so complimentary to human nature, yet, in this 
instance, I am inclined to take the proposition by halves, believ- 
ing with Horace,f that though war may have been originally 
the favorite amusement and industrious employment of our pro- 
genitors, yet, like many other excellent habits, so far from being 

* Hobbes's Leviathan. Part i. ch. 13. 

t Quum prorepserunt primis animalia terris, 

Mutuum ac turpe pecus, glandem atque cubilia propter, 
Unguibus et pugnis, dein fustibus, atque ita porro 
Pugnabant armis, quae post fabricaverat usus. 

Hor. Sat. L. i. S. 3. 


ameliorated, it has been cultivated and confirmed by refinement 
and civilization, and increases in exact proportion as we approach 
towards that state of perfection, which is the ne plus ultra of 
modern philosophy. 

The first conflict between man and man was the mere exer- 
tion of physical force, unaided by auxiliary weapons — his arm 
was his buckler, his fist was his mace, and a broken head the 
catastrophe of his encounters. The battle of unassisted strength 
was succeeded by the more rugged one of stones and clubs, and 
war assumed a sanguinary aspect. As man advanced in refine- 
ment, as his faculties expanded, and as his sensibilities became 
more exquisite, he grew rapidly more ingenious and experienced 
in the art of murdering his fellow-beings. He invented a thou- 
sand devices to defend and to assault — the helmet, the cuirass, 
and the buckler, the sword, the dart, and the javelin, prepared 
him to elude the wound as well as to launch the blow. Still 
urging on, in the career of philanthropic invention, he enlarges 
and heightens his powers of defence and injury : — The Aries, the 
Scorpio, the Balista, and the Catapulta, give a horror and sub- 
limity to war, and magnify its glory, by increasing its desolation. 
Still insatiable, though armed with machinery that seemed to 
reach the limits of destructive invention, and to yield a power of 
injury commensurate even with the desires of revenge — still 
deeper researches must be made in the diabolical arcana. "With 
furious zeal he dives into the bowels of the earth ; he toils midst 
poisonous minerals and deadly salts — the sublime discovery of 
gunpowder blazes upon the world — and finally the dreadful art 
of fighting by proclamation seems to endow the demon of war 
with ubiquity and omnipotence ! 

This, indeed, is grand! — this, indeed, marks the powers of 


mind, and bespeaks that divine endowment of reason, which dis- 
tinguishes us from the animals, our inferiors. The unenlightened 
brutes content themselves with the native force which Providence 
has assigned them. — The angry bull butts with his horns, as did 
his progenitors before him — the lion, the leopard, and the tiger 
seek only with their talons and their fangs to gratify their san- 
guinary fury ; and even the subtle serpent darts the same venom, 
and uses the same wiles, as did his sire before the flood. Man 
alone, blessed with the inventive mind, goes on from discovery to 
discovery — enlarges and multiplies his powers of destruction ; 
arrogates the tremendous weapons of Deity itself, and tasks 
creation to assist him in murdering his brother worm ! 

In proportion as the art of war has increased in improvement 
has the art of preserving peace advanced in equal ratio ; and as 
we have discovered, in this age of wonders and inventions, that 
proclamation is the most formidable engine in Avar, so have we 
discovered the no less ingenious mode of maintaining peace by 
perpetual negotiations. 

A treaty, or, to speak more correctly, a negotiation, therefore, 
according to the acceptation of experienced statesmen, learned in 
these matters, is no longer an attempt to accommodate differences, 
to ascertain rights, and to establish an equitable exchange of kind 
offices ; but a contest of skill between two powers, which shall 
overreach and take in the other. It is a cunning endeavor to 
obtain by peaceful manoeuvre, and the chicanery of cabinets, 
those advantages which a nation would otherwise have wrested by 
force of arms ; in the same manner as a conscientious highwayman 
reforms and becomes a quiet and praiseworthy citizen, contenting 
himself with cheating his neighbor out of that property he would 
formerly have seized with open violence. 


In fact, the only time when two nations can be said to be in a 
state of perfect amity is when a negotiation is open, and a treaty 
pending. Then, when there are no stipulations entered into, no 
bonds to restrain the will, no specific limits to awaken the captious 
jealousy of right implanted in our nature ; when each party has 
some advantage to hope and expect from the other, then it is 
that the two nations are wonderfully gracious and friendly; 
their ministers professing the highest mutual regard, exchanging 
billets-doux, making fine speeches, and indulging in all those 
little diplomatic flirtations, coquetries, and fondlings, that do 
so marvelously tickle the good humor of the respective nations. 
Thus it may j>aradoxically be said, that there is never so good an 
understanding between two nations as when there is a little mis- 
understanding — and that so long as they are on no terms at all, 
they are on the best terms in the world ! 

I do not by any means pretend to claim the merit of having 
made the above discovery. It has, in fact, long been secretly 
acted upon by certain enlightened cabinets, and is, together with 
divers other notable theories, privately copied out of the common- 
place book of an illustrious gentleman, who has been member of 
congress, and enjoyed the unlimited confidence of heads of 
departments. To this principle may be ascribed the wonderful 
ingenuity shown of late years in protracting and interrupting 
negotiations. — Hence the cunning measure of appointing as 
ambassador some political pettifogger skilled in delays, so- 
phisms, and misapprehensions, and dexterous in the art of 
baffling argument — or some blundering statesman, whose errors 
and misconstructions may be a plea for refusing to ratify his 
engagements. And hence, too, that most notable expedient, so 
popular with our government, of sending out a brace of ambassa- 


dors ; between whom, having each an individual will to consult, 
character to establish, and interest to promote, you may as well 
look for unanimity and concord as between two lovers with one 
mistress, two dogs with one bone, or two naked rogues with one 
pair of breeches. This disagreement, therefore, is continually 
breeding delays and impediments, in consequence of which the 
negotiation goes on swimmingly — inasmuch as there is no prospect 
of its ever coming to a close. Nothing is lost by these delays 
and obstacles but time ; and in a negotiation, according to the 
theory I have exposed, all time lost is in reality so much time 
gained : — with what delightful paradoxes does modern political 
economy abound ! 

Now all that I have here advanced is so notoriously true, that 
I almost blush to take up the time of my readers with treating 
of matters which must many a time have stared them in the face. 
But the proposition to which I would most earnestly call their 
attention is this, that though a negotiation be the most harmonizing 
of all national transactions, yet a treaty of peace is a great politi- 
cal evil, and one of the most fruitful sources of war. 

I have rarely seen an instance of any special contract between 
individuals that did not produce jealousies, bickerings, and often 
downright ruptures between them ; nor did I ever know of a 
treaty between two nations that did not occasion continual misun- 
derstandings. How many worthy country neighbors have I 
known, who, after living in peace and good fellowship for years, 
have been thrown into a state of distrust, caviling, and animosity, 
by some ill-starred agreement about fences, runs of water, and 
stray cattle ! And how many well-meaning nations, who would 
otherwise have remained in the most amicable disposition to- 
wards each other, have been brought to swords' points about the 


infringement or misconstruction of some treaty, which in an evil 
hour they had concluded, by way of making their amity more 
sure ! 

Treaties at best are but complied with so long as interest re- 
quires their fulfillment ; consequently they are virtually binding 
on the weaker party only, or, in plain truth, they are not binding 
at all. No nation will wantonly go to war with another if it has 
nothing to gain thereby, and therefore needs no treaty to restrain 
it from violence ; and if it have any thing to gain, I much ques- 
tion, from what I have witnessed of the righteous conduct of na- 
tions, whether any treaty could be made so strong that it could 
not thrust the sword through — nay, I would hold ten to one, the 
treaty itself would be the very source to which resort would be 
had to find a pretext for hostilities. 

Thus, therefore, I conclude — that though it is the best of all 
policies for a nation to keep up a constant negotiation with its 
neighbors, yet it is the summit of folly for it ever to be beguiled 
into a treaty ; for then comes on non-fulfillment and infraction, 
then remonstrance, then altercation, then retaliation, then recrimi- 
nation, and finally open war. In a word, negotiation is like 
courtship, a time of sweet words, gallant speeches, soft looks, and 
endearing caresses — but the marriage ceremony is the signal for 

If my painstaking reader be not somewhat perplexed by the 
ratiocination of the foregoing passage, he will perceive, at a 
glance, that the Great Peter, in concluding a treaty with his 
eastern neighbors, was guilty of lamentable error in policy. In 
fact, to this unlucky agreement may be traced a world of bicker- 
ings and heart-burnings between the parties, about fancied or 
pretended infringements of treaty stipulations ; in all which the 


Yankees were prone to indemnify themselves by a " dig into the 
sides" of the New-Netherlands. But, in sooth, these border 
feuds, albeit they gave great annoyance to the good burghers of 
Manna-hata, were so pitiful in their nature, that a grave historian 
like myself, who grudges the time spent in any thing less than the 
revolutions of states and fall of empires, would deem them un- 
worthy of being inscribed on his page. The reader is, therefore, 
to take it for granted, though I scorn to waste, in the detail, that 
time which my furrowed brow and trembling hand inform me is 
invaluable, that all the while the Great Peter was occupied in 
those tremendous and bloody contests which I shall shortly re- 
hearse, there was a continued series of little, dirty, sniveling 
scourings, broils, and maraudings, kept up on the eastern frontiers 
by the moss-troopers of Connecticut. But, like that mirror of 
chivalry, the sage and valorous Don Qnixote, I leave these petty 
contests for some future Sancho Panza of a historian, while I 
reserve my prowess and my pen for achievements of higher 
dignity ; for at this moment I hear a direful and portentous note 
issuing from the bosom of the great council of the league, and 
resounding throughout the regions of the east, menacing the fame 
and fortunes of Peter Stuyvesant. I call, therefore, upon the 
reader to leave behind him all the paltry brawls of the Connecti- 
cut borders, and to press forward with me to the relief of our 
favorite hero, who, I foresee, will be wofully beset by the implaca- 
ble Yankees in the next chapter. 



That the reader may be aware of the peril at this moment 
menacing Peter Stuyvesant and his capital, I must remind him 
of the old charge advanced in the council of the league in the 
time of William the Testy, that the Nederlanders were carrying 
on a trade " damnable and injurious to the colonists," in furnishing 
the savages with " guns, powther, and shott." This, as I then sug- 
gested, was a crafty device of the Yankee confederacy to have a 
snug cause of war in petto, in case any favorable opportunity 
should present of attempting the conquest of the New-Neder- 
lands : the great object of Yankee ambition. 

Accordingly we now find, when every other ground of com- 
plaint had apparently been removed by treaty, this nefarious 
charge revived with tenfold virulence, and hurled like a thunder- 
bolt at the very head of Peter Stuyvesant ; happily his head, like 
that of the great bull of the Wabash, was proof against such 

To be explicit, we are told that, in the year 1651, the great 


confederacy of the east accused the immaculate Peter, the soul 
of honor and heart of steel, of secretly endeavoring, by gifts and 
promises, to instigate the Narroheganset, Mohaque, and Pequot 
Indians, to surprise and massacre the Yankee settlements. " For," 
as the grand council observed, " the Indians round about for divers 
hundred miles cercute seeme to have drunk deepe of an intoxi- 
cating cupp, att or from the Manhattoes against the English, 
whoe have sought their good, both in bodily and spirituall 

This charge they pretended to support by the evidence of 
divers Indians, who were probably moved by that spirit of truth 
which is said to reside in the bottle, and who swore to the fact as 
sturdily as though they had been so many Christian troopers. 

Though descended from a family which suffered much injury 
from the losel Yankees of those times, my great-grandfather 
having had a yoke of oxen and his best pacer stolen, and having 
received a pair of black eyes and a bloody nose in one of these 
border wars ; and my grandfather, when a very little boy tending 
pigs, having been kidnapped and severely flogged by a long-sided 
Connecticut schoolmaster — yet I should have passed over all these 
wrongs with forgiveness and oblivion — I could even have suffered 
them to have broken Everet Ducking's head ; to have kicked the 
doughty Jacobus Van Curlet and his ragged regiment out of 
doors ; to have carried every hog into captivity, and depopulated 
every henroost on the face of the earth with perfect impunity — 
but this wanton attack upon one of the most gallant and irre- 
proachable heroes of modern times, is too much even for me to 
digest ; and has overset, with a single puff, the patience of the 
historian, and the forbearance of the Dutchman. 

Oh reader, it was false ! I swear to thee, it was false ! — If 


thou hast any respect to my word — if the undeviating character 
for veracity, which I have endeavored to maintain throughout 
this work, has its due weight with thee, thou wilt not give thy 
faith to this tale of slander ; for I pledge my honor and my im- 
mortal fame to thee, that the gallant Peter Stuyvesant was not 
only innocent of this foul conspiracy, but would have suffered 
his right arm or even his wooden leg to consume with slow and 
everlasting flames, rather than attempt to destroy his enemies 
in any other way than open, generous warfare — beshrew those 
caitiff scouts, that conspired to sully his honest name by such an 
imputation ! 

Peter Stuyvesant, though haply he may never have heard of 
a knight-errant, had as true a heart of chivalry as ever beat at 
the round table of King Arthur. In the honest bosom of this 
heroic Dutchman dwelt the seven noble virtues of knighthood, 
flourishing among his hardy qualities like wild flowers among rocks. 
He was, in truth, a hero of chivalry struck off by nature at a 
single heat, and though little care may have been taken to refine 
her workmanship, he stood forth a miracle of her skill. In all his 
dealings he was headstrong perhaps, but open and above board ; 
if there was any thing in the whole world he most loathed and 
despised it was cunning and secret wile ; " straight forward" was 
his motto, and he would at any time rather run his hard head 
against a stone wall than attempt to get round it. 

Such was Peter Stuyvesant, and if my admiration of him has 
on this occasion transported my style beyond the sober gravity 
which becomes the philosophic recorder of historic events, I 
must plead as an apology, that though a little gray-headed Dutch- 
man, arrived almost at the down-hill of life, I still retain a linger- 
ing spark of that fire which kindles in the eye of youth when 


contemplating the virtues of ancient worthies. Blessed, thrice 
and nine times blessed be the good St. Nicholas, if I have indeed 
escaped that apathy which chills the sympathies of age and 
paralyzes every glow of enthusiasm. 

The first measure of Peter Stuyvesant, on hearing of this 
slanderous charge, would have been worthy of a man who had 
studied for years in the chivalrous library of Don Quixote. 
Drawing his sword and laying it across the table, to put him in 
proper tune, he took pen in hand and indited a proud and lofty 
letter to the council of the league, reproaching them with giving 
ear to the slanders of heathen savages against a Christian, a 
soldier, and a cavalier ; declaring that whoever charged him with 
the plot in question, lied in his throat ; to prove which he offered 
to meet the president of the council or any of his compeers ; or 
their champion, Captain Alicxsander Partridg, that mighty man 
of Rhodes, in single combat ; wherein he trusted to vindicate his 
honor by the prowess of his arm. 

This missive was intrusted to his trumpeter and squire, Antony 
Van Corlear, that man of emergencies, with orders to travel night 
and day, sparing neither whip nor spur, seeing that he carried the 
vindication of his patron's fame in his saddle-bags. 

The loyal Antony accomplished his mission with great speed 
and considerable loss of leather. He delivered his missive with 
becoming ceremony, accompanying it with a flourish of defiance on 
his trumpet to the whole council, ending with a significant and 
nasal twang full in the face of Captain Partridg, who nearly 
jumped out of his skin in an ecstasy of astonishment. 

The grand council was composed of men too cool and practical 
to be put readily in a heat, or to indulge in knight-errantry ; and 
above all to run a tilt with such a fiery hero as Peter the Head- 


strong. They knew the advantage, however, to have always a 
snug, justifiable cause of war in reserve with a neighbor, who had 
territories worth invading; so they devised a reply to Peter 
Stuyvesant, calculated to keep up the "raw" which they had 

On receiving this answer, Antony Van Corlear remounted the 
Flanders mare which he always rode, and trotted merrily back to 
the Manhattoes, solacing himself by the way according to his 
wont — twanging his trumpet like a very devil, so that the 
sweet valleys and banks of the Connecticut resounded with the 
warlike melody — bringing all the folks to the windows as he 
passed through Hartford and Pyquag, and Middletown, and all 
the other border towns, ogling and winking at the women, and 
making aerial wind-mills from the end of his nose at their husbands 
— and stopping occasionally in the villages to eat pumpkin-pies, 
dance at country frolics, and bundle with the Yankee lasses — ■ 
whom he rejoiced exceedingly with his soul-stirring instrument. 




The reply of the grand council to Peter Stuyvesant was couched 
in the coolest and most diplomatic language. They assured him 
that " his confident denials of the barbarous plot alleged against 
him would weigh little against the testimony of divers sober and 
respectable Indians ;" that " his guilt was proved to their perfect 
satisfaction," so that they must still require and seek due satisfac- 
tion and security ; ending with — " so we rest, sir — Yours in ways 
of righteousness." 

I forbear to say how the lion-hearted Peter roared and 
ramped at finding himself more and more entangled in the 
meshes thus artfully drawn round him by the knowing Yankees. 
Impatient, however, of suffering so gross an aspersion to rest 
upon his honest name, he sent a second messenger to the council, 
reiterating his denial of the treachery imputed to him, and offer- 
ing to submit his conduct to the scrutiny of a court of honor. 
His offer was readily accepted ; and now he looked forward with 
confidence to an august tribunal to be assembled at the Manhat- 
toes, formed of high-minded cavaliers, peradventure governors 
and commanders of the confederate plantations, where the matter 


might be investigated by his peers, in a manner befitting his rank 
and dignity. 

While he was awaiting the arrival of such high functionaries, 
behold, one sunshiny afternoon there rode into the great gate of 
the Manhattoes two lean, hungry-looking Yankees, mounted on 
Narraganset pacers, with saddle-bags under their bottoms, and 
green satchels under their arms, who looked marvelously like two 
pettifogging attorneys beating the hoof from one county court to 
another in quest of lawsuits : and, in sooth, though they may 
have passed under different names at the time, I have reason to 
suspect they were the identical varlets who had negotiated the 
worthy Dutch commissioners out of the Connecticut river. 

It was a rule with these indefatigable missionaries never to 
let the grass grow under their feet. Scarce had they, therefore, 
alighted at the inn and deposited their saddle-bags, than they 
made their way to the residence of the governor. They found 
him, according to custom, smoking his afternoon pipe on the 
" stoop," or bench at the porch of his house, and announced them- 
selves, at once, as commissioners sent by the grand council of the 
east to investigate the truth of certain charges advanced against 

The good Peter took his pipe from his mouth, and gazed at 
them for a moment in mute astonishment. By way of expediting 
business, they were proceeding on the spot to put some prelimi- 
nary questions ; asking him, peradventure, whether he pleaded 
guilty or not guilty, considering him something in the light of a 
culprit at the bar ; when they were brought to a pause by seeing 
him lay down his pipe and begin to fumble with his walking-staff. 
For a moment, those present would not have given half a crown 
for both the crowns of the commissioners ; but Peter Stuyvesant 


repressed his mighty wrath and stayed his hand ; he scanned 
the varlets from head to foot, satchels and all, with a look of 
ineffable scorn; then strode into the house, slammed the door 
after him, and commanded that they should never again be 
admitted to his presence. 

The knowing commissioners winked to each other, and made 
a certificate on the spot that the governor had refused to answer 
their interrogatories or to submit to their examination. They 
then proceeded to rummage about the city for two or three days, 
in quest of what they called evidence, perplexing Indians and 
old women with their cross-questioning until they had stuffed 
their satchels and saddle-bags with all kinds of apocryphal tales, 
rumors and calumnies : with these they mounted their Narragan- 
set pacers and traveled back to the grand council ; neither did the 
proud-hearted Peter trouble himself to hinder their researches 
nor impede their departure ; he was too mindful of their sacred 
character as envoys; but I warrant me had they played the 
same tricks with William the Testy, he would have had them 
tucked up by the waistband and treated to an aerial gambol on 
his patent gallows. 




The grand council of the East held a solemn meeting on the 
return of their envoys. As no advocate appeared in behalf of 
Peter Stuyvesant every thing went against him. His haughty 
refusal to submit to the questioning of the commissioners was 
construed into a consciousness of guilt. The contents of the 
satchels and saddle-bags were poured forth before the council 
and appeared a mountain of evidence. A pale bilious orator 
took the floor, and declaimed for hours and in belligerent terms. 
He was one of those furious zealots who blow the bellows of 
faction until the whole furnace of politics is red-hot with sparks 
and cinders. What was it to him if he should set the house on 
fire, so that he might boil his pot by the blaze ? He was from 
the borders of Connecticut ; his constituents lived by marauding 
their Dutch neighbors, and were the greatest poachers in Christen- 
dom, excepting the Scotch border nobles. His eloquence had 
its effect, and it was determined to set on foot an expedition 
against the Nieuw-Nederlands. 


It was necessary, however, to prepare the public mind for this 
measure. Accordingly the arguments of the orator were echoed 
from the pulpit for several succeeding Sundays, and a crusade 
was preached up against Peter Stuyvesant and his devoted city. 

This is the first we hear of the "drum ecclesiastic" beating 
up for recruits in worldly warfare in our country. It has since 
been called into frequent use. A cunning politician often lurks 
under the clerical robe ; things spiritual and things temporal are 
strangely jumbled together, like drugs on an apothecary's shelf; 
and instead of a peaceful sermon, the simple seeker after right- 
eousness has often a political pamphlet thrust down his throat, 
labeled with a pious text from Scripture. 

And now nothing was talked of but an expedition against the 
Manhattoes. It pleased the populace, who had a vehement pre- 
judice against the Dutch, considering them a vastly inferior 
race, who had sought the new world for the lucre of gain, not the 
liberty of conscience ; who were mere heretics and infidels, inas- 
much as they refused to believe in witches and sea-serpents, and 
had faith in the virtues of horse-shoes nailed to the door ; ate 
pork without molasses ; held pumpkins in contempt, and were in 
perpetual breach of the eleventh commandment of all true Yan- 
kees, " Thou shalt have codfish dinners on Saturdays." 

No sooner did Peter Stuyvesant get wind of the storm that 
was brewing in the east than he set to work to prepare for it. 
He was not one of those economical rulers, who postpone the 
expense of fortifying until the enemy is at the door. There is 
nothing, he would say, that keeps off enemies and crows more 
than the smell of gunpowder. He proceeded, therefore, with all 
diligence, to put the province and its metropolis in a posture of 


Among the remnants which remained from the days of Wil- 
liam the Testy, were the militia laws ; by which the inhabitants 
were obliged to turn out twice a year, with such military equip- 
ments as it pleased God ; and were put under the command of 
tailors and man-milliners, who, though on ordinary occasions they 
might have been the meekest, most pippin-hearted little men in 
the world, were very devils at parades, when they had cocked 
hats on their heads and swords by their sides. Under the in- 
structions of these periodical warriors, the peaceful burghers of 
the Manhattoes were schooled in iron war, and became so hardy 
in the process of time, that they could march through sun and 
rain, from one end of the town to the other, without flinching ; 
and so intrepid and adroit, that they could face to the right, wheel 
to the left, and fire without winking or blinking. 

Peter Stuyvesant, like all old soldiers who have seen service 
and smelt gunpowder, had no great respect for militia troops ; 
however, he determined to give them a trial, and accordingly 
called for a general muster, inspection, and review. But, oh 
Mars and Bellona ! what a turning out was here ! Here came 
old Eoelant Cuckaburt, with a short blunderbuss on his shoulder, 
and a long horseman's sword trailing by his side ; and Barent 
Dirkson, with something that looked like a copper kettle turned 
upside down on his head, and a couple of old horse-pistols in his 
belt ; and Dirk Volkertson, with a long duck fowling-piece with- 
out any ramrod ; and a host more, armed higgledy-piggledy — 
with swords, hatchets, snickersnees, crowbars, broomsticks, and 
what not ; the officers distinguished from the rest by having their 
slouched hats cocked up with pins, and surmounted with cock- 
tail feathers. 

The sturdy Peter eyed this non-descript host with some such 


rueful aspect as a man would eye the devil, and determined to 
give his featherbed soldiers a seasoning. He accordingly put 
them through their manual exercise over and over again ; trudged 
them backwards and forwards about the streets of New- Amster- 
dam until their short legs ached and their fat sides sweated again, 
and finally encamped them in the evening on the summit of a 
hill without the city, to give them a taste of camp life, intending 
the next day to renew the toils and perils of the field. But so 
it came to pass that in the night there fell a great and heavy 
rain, and melted away the army, so that in the morning when 
Gaffer Phoebus shed his first beams upon the camp scarce a war- 
rior remained excepting Peter Stuyvesant and his trumpeter Van 

This awful desolation of a whole army would have appalled 
a commander of less nerve ; but it served to confirm Peter's 
want of confidence in the militia system, which he thenceforward 
used to call, in joke — for he sometimes indulged in a joke — Wil- 
liam the Testy's broken reed. He now took into his service „ 
a goodly number of burly, broad-shouldered, broad-bottomed 
Dutchmen ; whom he paid in good silver and gold, and of whom 
he boasted that whether they could stand fire or not, they were 
at least water-proof. 

He fortified the city, too, with pickets and pallisadoes, extend- 
ing across the island from river to river ; and above all, cast up 
mud batteries or redoubts on the point of the island, where it 
divided the beautiful bosom of the bay. 

These latter redoubts, in process of time, came to be pleasantly 
overrun by a carpet of grass and clover, and overshadowed by 
wide-spreading elms and sycamores; among the branches of 
which the birds would build their nests and rejoice the ear with 


their melodious notes. Under these trees, too, the old burghers 
would smoke their afternoon pipe ; contemplating the golden sun 
as he sank in the west, an emblem of the tranquil end toward 
which they were declining. Here, too, would the young men and 
maidens of the town take their evening stroll, watching the silver 
moonbeams as they trembled along the calm bosom of the bay, or 
lit up the sail of some gliding bark ; and peradventure inter- 
changing the soft vows of honest affection ; for to evening strolls 
in this favored spot were traced most of the marriages in New- 

Such was the origin of that renowned promenade, The Bat- 
tery, which though ostensibly devoted to the stern purposes of 
war, has ever been consecrated to the sweet delights of peace. 
The scene of many a gambol in happy childhood — of many a 
tender assignation in riper years — of many a soothing walk in 
declining age — the healthful resort of the feeble invalid — the 
Sunday refreshment of the dusty tradesman — in fine, the orna- 
ment and delight of New- York, and the pride of the lovely island 
of Manna-hata. 



Having thus provided for the temporary security of New- 
Amsterdam, and guarded it against any sudden surprise, the gallant 
Peter took a hearty pinch of snuff, and snapping his fingers, set 
the great council of Amphictyons and their champion, the re- 
doubtable Alicxsander Partridg, at defiance. In the meantime the 
moss-troopers of Connecticut ; the warriors of New-Haven and 
Hartford, and Pyquag, otherwise called Weathersfield, famous for 
its onions and its witches — and of all the other border towns were 
in a prodigious turmoil ; furbishing up their rusty weapons ; 
shouting aloud for war, and anticipating easy conquests, and 
glorious rummaging of the fat little Dutch villages. 

In the midst of these warlike preparations, however, they 
received the chilling news that the colony of Massachusetts refused 
to back them in this righteous war. It seems that the gallant 
conduct of Peter Stuyvesant, the generous warmth of his vindi- 
cation and the chivalrous spirit of his defiance, though lost upon 
the grand council of the league, had carried conviction to the 


general court of Massachusetts, which nobly refused to believe 
him guilty of the villanous plot laid at his door.* 

The defection of so important a colony paralyzed the councils 
of the league, some such dissension arose among its members as 
prevailed of yore in the camp of the brawling warriors of Greece, 
and in the end the crusade against the Manhattoes was aban- 

It is said that the moss-troopers of Connecticut were sorely 
disappointed ; but well for them that their belligerent cravings 
were not gratified : for by my faith, whatever might have been 
the ultimate result of a conflict with all the powers of the east, in 
the interim the stomachful heroes of Pyquag would have been 
choked with their own onions, and all the border towns of Con- 
necticut would have had such a scouring from the lion-hearted 
Peter and his robustious myrmidons, that I warrant me they 
would not have had the stomach to squat on the land or invade 
the henroost of a Nederlander for a century to come. 

But it was not merely the refusal of Massachusetts to join in 
their unholy crusade that confounded the councils of the league ; 
for about this time broke out in the New England provinces the 
awful plague of witchcraft, which spread like pestilence through 
the land. Such a howling abommation could not be suffered to 
remain long unnoticed ; it soon excited the fiery indignation of 
those guardians of the commonwealth, who whilom had evinced 
such active benevolence in the conversion of Quakers and Ana- 
baptists. The grand council of the league publicly set their faces 
against the crime, and bloody laws were enacted against all " sol- 
em conversing or compacting with the divil by the way of conju- 

* Hazard's State Papers. 


racion or the like."* Strict search too was made after witches, 
who were easily detected by devil's pinches ; by being able to 
weep but three tears, and those out of the left eye ; and by hav- 
ing a most suspicious predilection for black cats and broom- 
sticks ! "What is particularly worthy of admiration is, that this 
terrible art, which has baffled the studies and researches of phi- 
losophers, astrologers, theurgists, and other sages, was chiefly 
confined to the most ignorant, decrepit, and ugly old women in 
the community, with scarce more brains than the broomsticks 
they rode upon. 

When once an alarm is sounded, the public, who dearly love 
to be in a panic, are always ready to keep it up. Raise but the 
cry of yellow fever, and immediately every headache, indigestion, 
and overflowing of the bile is pronounced the terrible epidemic ; 
cry out mad dog, and every unlucky cur in the street is in jeop- 
ardy : so in the present instance, whoever was troubled with 
colic or lumbago was sure to be bewitched — and woe to any 
unlucky old woman living in the neighborhood, 

It is incredible the number of offences that were detected, 
" for every one of which," says the reverend Cotton Mather, in 
that excellent work, the History of New England, " we have 
such a sufficient evidence, that no reasonable man in this whole 
country ever did question them ; and it will he unreasonable to 
do it in any oilier"^ 

Indeed, that authentic and judicious historian, John Josselyn, 
Gent., furnishes us with unquestionable facts on this subject. 
'- There are none," observes he, " that beg in this country, but 
there be witches too many — bottle-bellied witches and others, 

* New Plymouth record. 
t Mather's Hist. New Eng. B. 6. ch. 7. 


that produce many strange apparitions, if you will believe report 
of a shallop at sea manned with women — and of a ship and great 
red horse standing by the main-mast ; the ship being in a small 
cove to the eastward vanished of a sudden," etc. 

The number of delinquents, however, and their magical de- 
vices, were not more remarkable than their diabolical obstinacy. 
Though exhorted in the most solemn, persuasive, and affectionate 
manner, to confess themselves guilty, and be burnt for the good 
of religion, and the entertainment of the public ; yet did they 
most pertinaciously persist in asserting their innocence. Such 
incredible obstinacy was in itself deserving of immediate punish- 
ment, and was sufficient proof, if proof were necessary, that they 
were in league with the devil, who is perverseness itself. But 
their judges were just and merciful, and were determined to pun- 
ish none that were not convicted on the best of testimony ; not 
that they needed any evidence to satisfy their own minds, for, 
like true and experienced judges, their minds were perfectly 
made up, and they were thoroughly satisfied of the guilt of the 
prisoners before they proceeded to try them : but still something 
was necessary to convince the community at large — to quiet those 
prying quidnuncs who should come after them — in short, the 
world must be satisfied. Oh the world — the world ! — all the 
world knows the world of trouble the world is eternally occasion- 
ing ! — The worthy judges, therefore, were driven to the necessity 
of sifting, detecting, and making evident as noon-clay, matters 
which were at the commencement all clearly understood and 
firmly decided upon in their own pericraniums — so that it may 
truly be said, that the witches were burnt to gratify the populace 
of the day — but were tried for the satisfaction of the whole 
world that should come after them ! 


Finding therefore, that neither exhortation, sound reason, nor 
friendly entreaty had any avail on these hardened offenders, they 
resorted to the more urgent arguments of torture ; and having 
thus absolutely wrung the truth from their stubborn lips, they 
condemned them to undergo the roasting due unto the heinous 
crimes they had confessed. Some even carried their perverseness 
so far as to expire under the torture, protesting their innocence 
to the last ; but these were looked upon as thoroughly and abso- 
lutely possessed by the devil, and the pious bystanders only 
lamented that they had not lived a little longer, to have perished 
in the flames. 

In the city of Ephesus, we are told that the plague was 
expelled by stoning a ragged old beggar to death, whom Apollo- 
nius pointed out as being the evil spirit that caused it, and who 
actually showed himself to be a demon, by changing into a shag- 
ged dog. In like manner, and by measures equally sagacious, a 
salutary check was given to this growing evil. The witches were 
all burnt, banished, or panic-struck, and in a little while there 
was not an ugly old woman to be found throughout New Eng- 
land — which is doubtless one reason why all the young women 
there are so handsome. Those honest folk who had suffered from 
their incantations gradually recovered, excepting such as had 
been afflicted with twitches and aches, which, however, assumed 
the less alarming aspects of rheumatisms, sciatics, and lumbagos — - 
and the good people of New England, abandoning the study of 
the occult sciences, turned their attention to the more profitable 
hocus pocus of trade, and soon became expert in the legerdemain 
art of turning a penny. Still, however, a tinge of the old leaven 
is discernible, even unto this day, in their characters — witches 
occasionally start up among them in different disguises, as 



physicians, civilians, and divines. The people at large show a 
keenness, a cleverness, and a profundity of wisdom, that savors 
strongly of witchcraft — and it has been remarked, that whenever 
any stones fall from the moon, the greater part of them is sure to 
tumble into New England ! 



When treating of these tempestuous times the unknown writer of 
the Stuyvesant manuscript breaks out into an apostrophe in 
praise of the good St. Nicholas, to whose protecting care he 
ascribes the disssensions which broke out in the council of the 
league, and the direful witchcraft which filled all Yankee land 
as with Egyptian darkness. 

A portentous gloom, says he, hung lowering over the fair val- 
leys of the East : the pleasant banks of the Connecticut no longer 
echoed to the sounds of rustic gayety ; grisly phantoms glided 
about each wild brook and silent glen ; fearful apparitions were 
seen in the air ; strange voices were heard in solitary places, and 
the border towns were so occupied in detecting and punishing 
losel witches, that, for a time, all talk of war was suspended, 
and New- Amsterdam and its inhabitants seemed to be totally 

I must not conceal the fact that at one time there was some 
danger of this plague of witchcraft extending into the New 


Netherlands ; and certain witches mounted on broomsticks are 
said to have been seen whisking in the air over some of the 
Dutch villages near the borders ; but the worthy Nederlanders 
took the precaution to nail horseshoes to their doors, which it 
is well known are effectual barriers against all diabolical vermin 
of the* kind. Many of those horseshoes may be seen at this 
very day on ancient mansions and barns remaining from the days 
of the patriarchs ; nay, the custom is still kept up among some 
of our legitimate Dutch yeomanry, who inherit from their fore- 
fathers a desire to keep witches and Yankees out of the country. 

And now the great Peter, having no immediate hostility to 
apprehend from the east, turned his face, with characteristic 
vigilance to his southern frontiers. The attentive reader will 
recollect that certain freebooting Swedes had become very 
troublesome in this quarter in the latter part of the reign of 
William the Testy, setting at naught the proclamations of that 
veritable potentate, and putting his admiral, the intrepid Jan 
Jansen Alpendam, to a perfect nonplus. To check the incursions 
of these Swedes, Peter Stuyvesant now ordered a force to that 
frontier, giving the command of it to General Jacobus Van Pof- 
fenburgh, an officer who had risen to great importance during the 
reign of Wilhelmus Kieft. He had, if histories speak true, been 
second in command to the doughty Van Curlet, when he and his 
warriors were inhumanly kicked out of Fort Goed Hoop by the 
Yankees. In that memorable affair Van Poffenburgh is said to 
have received more kicks in a certain honorable part, than any 
of his comrades, in consequence of which, on the resignation of 
Van Curlet, he had been promoted to his place, being considered 
a hero who had seen service, and suffered in his country's cause. 

It is tropically observed by honest old Socrates, that heaven 


infuses into some men at their birth a portion of intellectual gold ; 
into others of intellectual silver ; while others are intellectually 
furnished with iron and brass. Of the last class was General 
Van Poffenburgh, and it would seem as if dame Nature, who will 
sometimes be partial, had given him brass enough for a dozen 
ordinary braziers. All this he had contrived to pass off upon 
William the Testy for genuine gold, and the little governor would 
sit for hours and listen to his gunpowder stories of exploits, which 
left those of Tirante the White, Don Belianis of Greece, or St. 
George and the Dragon quite in the background. Having been 
promoted by William Kieft to the command of his whole dispo- 
sable forces, he gave importance to his station by the grandilo- 
quence of his bulletins, always styling himself Commander-in- 
chief of the Armies of the New-Netherlands ; though in sober 
truth, these armies were nothing more than a handful of hen- 
stealing, bottle-bruising ragamuffins. 

In person he was not very tall, but exceedingly round ; neither 
did his bulk proceed from his being fat, but windy ; being blown up 
by a prodigious conviction of his own importance, until he resem- 
bled one of those bags of wind given by Eolus, in an incredible 
fit of generosity, to that vagabond warrior, Ulysses. His windy 
endowments had long excited the admiration of Antony Van 
Corlear, who is said to have hinted more than once to William 
the Testy that in making Van Poffenburgh a general he had 
spoiled an admirable trumpeter. 

As it is the practice in ancient story to give the reader a 
description of the arms and equipments of every noted warrior, I 
will bestow a word upon the dress of this redoubtable commander. 
It comported with his character, being so crossed and slashed, and 
embroidered with lace and tinsel, that he seemed to have as much 


brass without, as nature had stored away within. He was swathed 
too, in a crimson sash, of the size and texture of a fishing-net ; 
doubtless to keep his swelling heart from bursting through his 
ribs. His face glowed with furnace heat from between a huge 
pair of well-powdered whiskers ; and his valorous soul seemed 
ready to bounce out of a pair of large, glassy, blinking eyes, pro- 
jecting like those of a lobster. 

I swear to thee, worthy reader, if history and tradition belie 
not this warrior, I would give all the money in my pocket to have 
seen him accoutred cap-a-pie — booted to the middle — sashed to 
the chin — collared to the ears — whiskered to the teeth — crowned 
with an overshadowing cocked hat, and girded with a leathern 
belt ten inches broad, from which trailed a falchion, of a length 
that I dare not mention. Thus equipped, he strutted about, as 
bitter-looking a man of war as the far-famed More, of More-hall, 
when he sallied forth to slay the Dragon of Wantley. For what 
says the ballad ? 

" Had you but seen him in this dress, 

How fierce he looked and how big, 
You would have thought him for to be 

Some Egyptian porcupig. 
He frighted all — cats, dogs and all, 

Each cow, each horse, and each hog ; 
For fear they did flee, for they took him to be 

Some strange outlandish hedge-hog."* 

I must confess this general, with all his outward valor and 
ventosity, was not exactly an officer to Peter Stuyvesant's taste, 
but he stood foremost in the army list of William the Testy, and 

* Ballad of Dragon of Wantley. 



it is probable the good Peter, who was conscientious in his deal- 
ings with all men, and had his military notions of precedence, 
thought it but fair to give him a chance of proving his right to 
his dignities. 

To this copper captain, therefore, was confided the command 
of the troops destined to protect the southern frontier ; and scarce 
had he departed for his station than bulletins began to arrive from 
him, describing his undaunted march through savage deserts, over 
insurmountable mountains, across impassable rivers, and through 
impenetrable forests, conquering vast tracts of uninhabited coun 
try, and encountering more perils than did Xenophon in his far- 
famed retreat with his ten thousand Grecians. 

Peter Stuyvesant read all these grandiloquent dispatches with 
a dubious screwing of the mouth and shaking of the head ; but 
Antony Van Corlear repeated these contents in the streets and 
market-places with an appropriate flourish upon his trumpet, and 
the windy victories of the general resounded through the streets 
of New- Amsterdam. 

On arriving at the southern frontier, Van Poffenburgh pro- 
ceeded to erect a fortress, or strong-hold, on the South or Dela- 
ware river. At first he bethought him to call it Fort Stuyvesant, 
in honor of the governor, a lowly kind of homage prevalent in 
our country among speculators, military commanders, and office- 
seekers of all kinds, by which our maps come to be studded with 
the names of political patrons and temporary great men ; in the 
present instance, Van Poffenburgh carried his homage to the 
most lowly degree, giving his fortress the name of Port Casimir, 
in honor; it is said, of a favorite pair of brimstone trunk breeches 
of his excellency. 

As this fort will be found to give rise to important events, it 


may be worth while to notice that it was afterwards called Nieuw- 
Amstel, and was the germ of the present flourishing town of 
New-Castle, or, more properly speaking, No Castle, there being 
nothing of the kind on the premises. 

His fortress being finished, it would have done any man's 
heart good to behold the swelling dignity with which the general 
would stride in and out a dozen times a day, surveying it in front 
and in rear : on this side and on that ; how he would strut back- 
wards and forwards, in full regimentals, on the top of the ram- 
parts ; like a vainglorious cock-pigeon, swelling and vaporing on 
the top of a dove-cote. 

There is a kind of valorous spleen which, like wind, is apt to 
grow unruly in the stomachs of newly-made soldiers, compelling 
them to box-lobby brawls and broken-headed quarrels, unless 
there can be found some more harmless way to give it vent. It 
is recorded in the delectable romance of Pierce Forest, that a 
young knight, being dubbed by King Alexander, did incontinently 
gallop into an adjacent forest and belabor the trees with such 
might and main, that he not merely eased off the sudden effer- 
vescence of his valor, but convinced the whole court that he 
was the most potent and courageous cavalier on the face of the 
earth. In like manner the commander of Fort Casimir, when he 
found his martial spirit waxing too hot within him, would sally 
forth into the fields and lay about him most lustily with his sabre ; 
decapitating cabbages by platoons ; hewing down lofty sunflowers, 
which he termed gigantic Swedes, and if, perchance, he espied a 
colony of big-bellied pumpkins quietly basking in the sun, " ah ! 
caitiff Yankees !" would he roar, " have I caught ye at last ?" 
So saying, with one sweep of his sword, he would cleave the un- 
happy vegetables from their chins to their waistbands : by which 


warlike havoc, his choler being in some sort allayed, he would 
return into the fortress with the full conviction that he was a very 
miracle of military prowess. 

He was a disciplinarian, too, of the first order. Woe to any 
unlucky soldier who did not hold up his head and turn out his 
toes when on parade ; or, who did not salute the general in proper 
style as he passed. Having one day, in his Bible researches, en- 
countered the history of Absalom and his melancholy end, the 
general bethought him that, in a country abounding with forests, 
his soldiers were in constant risk of a like catastrophe ; he there- 
fore, in an evil hour, issued orders for cropping the hair of both 
officers and men throughout the garrison. 

Now so it happened, that among his officers was a sturdy vet- 
eran named Keldermeester ; who had cherished, through a long 
life, a mop of hair not a little resembling the shag of a New- 
foundland dog, terminating in a queue like the handle of a fry- 
ing-pan, and queued so tightly to his head that his eyes and mouth 
generally stood ajar, and his eyebrows were drawn up to the top 
of his forehead. It may naturally be supposed that the possessor 
of so goodly an appendage would resist with abhorrence an order 
condemning it to the shears. On hearing the general orders, he 
discharged a tempesf of veteran, soldier-like oaths, and dunder 
and blixums — swore he would break any man's head who at- 
tempted to meddle with his tail — queued it stiffer than ever, and 
whisked it about the garrison as fiercely as the tail of a crocodile. 

The eelskin queue of old Keldermeester became instantly an 
affair of the utmost importance. The commander-in-chief was 
too enlightened an officer not to perceive that the discipline of the 
garrison, the subordination and good order of the armies of the 
Nieuw-Nederlands, the consequent safety of the whole province, 


and ultimately the dignity and prosperity of their High Mighti- 
nesses the Lords States General, imperiously demanded the dock- 
ing of that stubborn queue. He decreed, therefore, that old 
Keldermeester should be publicly shorn of his glories, in presence 
of the whole garrison — the old man as resolutely stood on the 
defensive — whereupon he was arrested and tried by a court-mar- 
tial for mutiny, desertion, and all the other list of offences noticed 
in the articles of war, ending with a " videlicet, in wearing an 
eelskin queue, three feet long, contrary to orders." Then came 
on arraignments, and trials, and pleadings ; and the whole garri- 
son was in a ferment about this unfortunate queue. As it is well 
known that the commander of a frontier post has the power of 
acting pretty much after his own will, there is little doubt but that 
the veteran would have been hanged or shot at least, had he not 
luckily fallen ill of a fever, through mere chagrin and mortifica- 
tion — and deserted from all earthly command, with his beloved 
locks unviolated. His obstinacy remained unshaken to the very 
last moment, when he directed that he should be carried to his 
grave with his eelskin queue sticking out of a hole in his coffin. 
This magnanimous affair obtained the general great credit as 
a disciplinarian ; but it is hinted that he was ever afterwards sub- 
ject to bad dreams and fearful visitations in the night ; when the 
grizzly spectrum of old Keldermeester would stand sentinel by his 
bedside, erect as a pump, his enormous queue strutting out like 
the handle. 








Hitherto, most venerable and courteous reader, have I shown 
thee the administration of the valorous Stuyvesant, under the 
mild moonshine of peace, or rather the grim tranquillity of awful 
expectation ; but now the war drum rumbles from afar, the brazen 
trumpet brays its thrilling note, and the rude clash of hostile 
arms speaks fearful prophecies of coming troubles. The gal- 
lant warrior starts from soft repose ; from golden visions, and 
voluptuous ease ; where in the dulcet, " piping time of peace," 
he sought sweet solace after all his toils. No more in beauty's 
siren lap reclined, he weaves fair garlands for his lady's brows ; 
no more entwines with flowers his shining sword, nor through 


the livelong lazy summer's day chants forth his love-sick soul 
in madrigals. To manhood roused, he spurns the amorous 
flute ; doffs from his brawny back the robe of peace, and clothes 
his pampered limbs in panoply of steel. O'er his dark brow, 
where late the myrtle waved, where wanton roses breathed ener- 
vate love, he rears the beaming casque and nodding plume; 
grasps the bright shield, and shakes the ponderous lance ; or 
mounts with eager pride his fiery steed, and burns for deeds of 
glorious chivalry ! 

But soft, worthy reader ! I would not have you imagine that 
any preux chevalier, thus hideously begirt with iron, existed in 
the city of New- Amsterdam. This is but a lofty and gigantic 
mode, in which we heroic writers always talk of war, thereby to 
give it a noble and imposing aspect ; equipping our warriors with 
bucklers, helms, and lances, and such like outlandish and obsolete 
weapons, the like of which perchance they had never seen or 
heard of; in the same manner that a cunning statuary arrays a 
modern general or an admiral in the accoutrements of a Csesar 
or an Alexander. The simple truth then of all this oratorical 
flourish is this — that the valiant Peter Stuyvesant all of a sudden 
found it necessary to scour his rusty blade, which too long had 
rusted in its scabbard, and prepare himself to undergo those har- 
dy toils of war, in which his mighty soul so much delighted. 

Methinks I at this moment behold him in my imagination — 
or rather, I behold his goodly portrait, which still hangs up in 
the family mansion of the Stuyvesants — arrayed in all the terrors 
of a true Dutch general. His regimental coat of German blue, 
gorgeously decorated with a goodly show of large brass buttons, 
reaching from his waistband to his chin : the voluminous skirts 
turned up at the corners and separating gallantly behind, so as 


to display the seat of a sumptuous pair of brimstone-colored 
trunk-breeches — a graceful style still prevalent among the warriors 
of our day, and which is in conformity to the custom of ancient 
heroes, who scorned to defend themselves in rear. His face 
rendered exceeding terrible and warlike by a pair of black mus- 
tachios ; his hair strutting out on each side in stiffly pomatumed 
ear-locks, and descending in a rat-tail queue below his waist ; a 
shining stock of black leather supporting his chin, and a little 
but fierce cocked hat, stuck with a gallant and fiery air over 
his left eye. Such was the chivalric port of Peter the Head- 
strong ; and when he made a sudden halt, planted himself firmly 
on his solid supporter, with his wooden leg inlaid with silver a 
little in advance, in order to strengthen his position, his right 
hand grasping a gold-headed cane, his left resting upon the pum- 
mel of his sword, his head dressing spiritedly to the right, with a 
most appalling and hard-favored frown upon his brow — he pre- 
sented altogether one of the most commanding, bitter-looking and 
soldier-like figures that ever strutted upon canvas. — Proceed we 
now to inquire the cause of this warlike preparation. 

In the preceding chapter we have spoken of the founding of 
Fort Casimir, and of the merciless warfare waged by its com- 
mander upon cabbages, sunflowers and pumpkins, for want of 
better occasion to flesh his sword. Now it came to pass that 
higher up the Delaware, at his strong-hold of Tinnekonk, resided 
one Jan Printz, who styled himself Governor of New-Sweden. 
If history belie not this redoubtable Swede, he was a rival worthy 
of the windy and inflated commander of Fort Casimir, for mas- 
ter David Pieterzen de Vrie, in his excellent book of voyages, 
describes him as " weighing upwards of four hundred pounds," 
a huge feeder and bowser in proportion, taking three potations 


pottle-deep at every meal. He had a garrison after his own 
heart at Tinnekonk, guzzling, deep-drinking swashbucklers, who 
made the wild woods ring with their carousals. 

No sooner did this robustious commander hear of the erection 
of Fort Cashnir, than he sent a message to Van Poffenburgh, 
warning him off the land, as being within the bounds of his juris- 

To this General Van Poffenburgh replied that the land be- 
longed to their High Mightinesses, having been regularly pur- 
chased of the natives, as discoverers from the Manhattoes, as 
witness the breeches of their land measurer, Ten Broeck. 

To this the governor rejoined that the land had previously 
been sold by the Indians to the Swedes, and consequently was 
under the petticoat government of her Swedish majesty, Christina ; 
and woe be to any mortal that wore a breeches who should dare 
to meddle even with the hem of her sacred garment, 

I forbear to dilate upon the war of words which was kept up 
for some time by these windy commanders ; Van Poffenburgh, 
however, had served under William the Testy, and was a veteran 
in this kind of warfare. Governor Printz, finding he was not to 
be dislodged by these long shots, now determined upon coming to 
closer quarters. Accordingly he descended the river in great 
force and fume, and erected a rival fortress just one Swedish 
mile below Fort Casimir, to which he gave the name of Helsen- 

And now commenced a tremendous rivalry between these two 
doughty commanders; striving to outstrut and outswell each 
other like a couple of belligerent turkey cocks. There was a con- 
test who should run up the tallest flag-staff and display the broad- 
est flag ; all day long there was a furious rolling of drums and 


twanging of trumpets in either fortress, and, whichever had the 
wind in its favor, would keep up a continual firing of cannon, to 
taunt its antagonist with the smell of gunpowder. 

On all these points of windy warfare the antagonists were 
well matched ; but so it happened that the Swedish fortress being 
lower down the river, all the Dutch vessels bound to Fort Casimir 
with supplies, had to pass it. Governor Printz at once took 
advantage of this circumstance, and compelled them to lower 
their flags as they passed under the guns of his battery. 

This was a deadly wound to the Dutch pride of General Van 
Poffenburgh, and sorely would he swell when from the ramparts 
of Fort Casimir he beheld the flag of their High Mightinesses 
struck to the rival fortress. To heighten his vexation, Gov- 
ernor Printz, who, as has been shown, was a huge trencherman, 
took the liberty of having the first rummage of every Dutch mer- 
chant-ship, and securing to himself and his guzzling garrison all 
the little round Dutch cheeses, all the Dutch herrings, the gin- 
gerbread, the sweetmeats, the curious stone jugs of gin, and all 
the other Dutch luxuries, on their way for the solace of Fort Casi- 
mir. It is possible he may have paid to the Dutch skippers the 
full value of their commodities, but what consolation was this to 
Jacobus Van Poffenburgh and his garrison, who thus found their 
favorite supplies cut off, and diverted into the larders of the hos- 
tile camp ? For some time this war of the cupboard was carried 
on to the great festivity and jollification of the Swedes, while the 
warriors of Fort Casimir found their hearts, or rather their sto- 
machs, daily failing them. At length the summer heats and sum- 
mer showers set in, and now, lo and behold, a great miracle was 
wrought for the relief of the Nederlands, not a little resembling one 
of the plagues of Egypt ; for it came to pass that a great cloud 



of musquetoes arose out of the marshy borders of the river and 
settled upon the fortress of Helsenburg, being, doubtless, attracted 
by the scent of the fresh blood of these Swedish gormandizers. 
Nay, it is said that the body of Jan Printz alone, which was as 
big and as full of blood as that of a prize ox, was sufficient to 
attract the musquetoes from every part of the country. For some 
time the garrison endeavored to hold out, but it was all in vain ; 
the musquetoes penetrated into every chink and crevice, and gave 
them no rest day nor night ; and as to Governor Jan Printz, he 
moved about as in a cloud, with musqueto music in his ears, and 
musqueto stings to the very end of his nose. Finally the garri- 
rison was fairly driven out of the fortress, and obliged to retreat 
to Tinnekonk ; nay, it is said that the musquetoes followed Jan 
Printz even thither, and absolutely drove him out of the country ; 
certain it is, he embarked for Sweden shortly afterwards, and Jan 
Claudius Kisingh was sent to govern New-Sweden in his stead. 

Such was the famous musqueto war on the Delaware, of which 
General Van Poffenburgh would fain have been the hero ; but 
the devout people of the Nieuw-Nederlands always ascribed the 
discomfiture of the Swedes to the miraculous intervention of St. 
Nicholas. As to the fortress of Helsenburg, it fell to ruin, but 
the story of its strange destruction was perpetuated by the Swe- 
dish name of Myggen-borg, that is to say, Musqueto Castle.* 

* Acrelius' History N. Sweden. For some notice of this miraculous dis- 
comfiture of the Swedes, see N. Y. Hist. Col., new series, vol. 1, p. 412. 



Jan Claudius Risingh, who succeeded to the command of New- 
Sweden, looms largely in ancient records as a gigantic Swede, who, 
had he not been rather knock-kneed and splay-footed, might have 
served for the model of a Samson or a Hercules. He was no 
less rapacious than mighty, and, withal, as crafty as he was rapa- 
cious, so that there is very little doubt that, had he lived some 
four or five centuries since, he would have figured as one of those 
wicked giants, who took a cruel pleasure in pocketing beautiful 
princesses and distressed damsels, when gadding about the world, 
and locking them up in enchanted castles, without a toilet, a 
change of linen, or any other convenience. — In consequence of 
which enormities they fell under the high displeasure of chivalry, 
and all true, loyal, and gallant knights were instructed to attack 
and slay outright any miscreant they might happen to find above 
six feet high ; which is doubtless one reason why the race of 
large men is nearly extinct, and the generations of latter ages are 
so exceedingly small. 

Governor Risingh, notwithstanding his giantly condition, was, 
as I have hinted, a man of craft. He was not a man to ruffle 


the vanity of General Van Poffenburgh, or to rub his self-conceit 
against the grain. On the contrary, as he sailed up the Dela- 
ware, he paused before Fort Casimir, displayed his flag, and fired 
a royal salute before dropping anchor. The salute would doubt- 
tess have been returned, had not the guns been dismounted ; as it 
was, a veteran sentinel, who had been napping at his post, and 
had suffered his match to go out, returned the compliment by dis- 
charging his musket with the spark of a pipe borrowed from a 
comrade. Governor Risingh accepted this as a courteous reply, 
and treated the fortress to a second salute ; well knowing its com- 
mander was apt to be marvelously delighted with these little 
ceremonials, considering them so many acts of homage paid to his 
greatness. He then prepared to land with a military retinue of 
thirty men, a prodigious pageant in the wilderness. 

And now took place a terrible rummage and racket in Fort 
Casimir, to receive such a visitor in proper style, and to make 
an imposing appearance. The main guard was turned out as 
soon as possible, equipped to the best advantage in the few suits 
of regimentals, which had to do duty by turns with the whole 
garrison. One tall, lank fellow appeared in a little man's coat, 
with the buttons between his shoulders ; the skirts scarce cover- 
ing his bottom ; his hands hanging like spades out of the sleeves ; 
and the coat linked in front by worsted loops made out of a pair 
of red garters. Another had a cocked hat stuck on the back of 
his head, and decorated with a bunch of cock's-tails ; a third had 
a pair of rusty gaiters hanging about his heels — while a fourth, a 
little duck-legged fellow, was equipped in a pair of the general's 
cast-off breeches, which he held up with one hand while he 
grasped his firelock with the other. The rest were accoutred in 
similar style, excepting three ragamuffins without shirts, and with 


but a pair and a half of breeches between them, wherefore they 
were sent to the black hole, to keep them out of sight, that they 
might not disgrace the fortress. 

His men being thus gallantly arrayed — those who lacked 
muskets shouldering spades and pickaxes, and every man being- 
ordered to tuck in his shirt-tail and pull up his brogues — General 
Van PofFenburgh first took a sturdy draught of foaming ale, 
which, like the magnanimous More of More-hall,* was his inva- 
riable practice on all great occasions; this done, he put him- 
self at their head, and issued forth from his castle, like a mighty 
giant, just refreshed with wine. But when the two heroes met, 
then began a scene of warlike parade that beggars all description. 
The shrewd Eisingh, who had grown gray much before his time, 
in consequence of his craftiness, saw at one glance the ruling pas- 
sion of the great Van PofFenburgh, and humored him in all his 
valorous fantasies. 

Their detachments were accordingly drawn up in front of 
each other ; they carried arms and they presented arms ; they 
gave the standing salute and the passing salute ; they rolled their 
drums, they flourished their fifes, and they waved their colors ; 
they faced to the left, and they faced to the right, and they faced 
to the right about ; they wheeled forward, and they wheeled 
backward, and they wheeled into echellon ; they marched and 
they countermarched, by grand divisions, by single divisions, and 
by subdivisions ; by platoons, by sections, and by files ; in quick 

* " as soon as he rose, 

To make him strong and mighty, 
He drank by the tale, six pots of ale, 
And a quart of aqua vitae." 

Dragon of Wantley. 


time, in slow time, and in no time at all ; for, having gone 
through all the evolutions of two great armies, including the 
eighteen manoeuvres of Dundas ; having exhausted all that they 
could recollect or imagine of military tactics, including sundry 
strange and irregular evolutions, the like of which were never 
seen before nor since, excepting among certain of our newly- 
raised militia, the two commanders and their respective troops 
came at length to a dead halt, completely exhausted by the toils 
of war. Never did two valiant train-band captains, or two bus- 
kined theatric heroes, in the renowned tragedies of Pizarro, Tom 
Thumb, or any other heroical and fighting tragedy, marshal their 
gallows-looking, duck-legged, heavy-heeled myrmidons with more 
glory and self-admiration. 

These military compliments being finished, General Van 
Poffenburgh escorted Ins illustrious visitor, with great ceremony, 
into the fort ; attended him throughout the fortifications ; showed 
him the horn-works, crown-works, half-moons, and various other 
outworks, or rather the places were they ought to be erected, and 
where they might be erected if he pleased ; plainly demonstrating 
that it was a place of " great capability," and though at present 
but a little redoubt, yet that it was evidently a formidable for- 
tress, in embryo. This survey over, he next had the whole gar- 
rison put under arms, exercised, and reviewed ; and concluded by 
ordering the three bridewell birds to be hauled out of the black 
hole, brought up to the halberds, and soundly flogged, for the 
amusement of his visitor, and to convince him that he was a 
great disciplinarian. 

The cunning Risingh, while he pretended to be struck dumb 
outright with the puissance of the great Van Poffenburgh, took 
silent note of the incompetency of his garrison, of which he gave 


a wink to his trusty followers, who tipped each other the wink, 
and laughed most obstreperously — in their sleeves. 

The inspection, review, and flogging being concluded, the 
party adjourned to the table ; for among his other great qualities, 
the general was remarkably addicted to huge carousals, and in 
one afternoon's campaign would leave more dead men on the 
field than he ever did in the whole course of his military career. 
Many bulletins of these bloodless victories do still remain on 
record ; and the whole province was once thrown in amaze by 
the return of one of his campaigns ; wherein it was stated, that 
though, like Captain Bobadil, he had only twenty men to back 
him, yet in the short space of six months he had conquered and 
utterly annihilated sixty oxen, ninety hogs, one hundred sheep, 
ten thousand cabbages, one thousand bushels of potatoes, one 
hundred and fifty kilderkins of small beer, two thousand seven 
hundred and thirty-five pipes, seventy-eight pounds of sugar- 
plums, and forty bars of iron, besides sundry small meats, game, 
poultry, and garden-stuff: — an achievement unparalleled since 
the days of Pantagruel and his all-devouring army, and which 
showed that it was only necessary to let Van Poffenburgh and 
his garrison loose in an enemy's country, and in a little while 
they would breed a famine, and starve all the inhabitants. 

No sooner, therefore, had the general received intimation of 
the visit of Governor Risingh, than he ordered a great dinner to 
be prepared ; and privately sent out a detachment of his most 
experienced veterans, to rob all the hen-roosts in the neighbor- 
hood, and lay the pigsties under contribution ; — a service which 
they discharged with such zeal and promptitude, that the garrison 
table groaned under the weight of their spoils. 

I wish, with all my heart, my readers could see the valiant 


Van Poffenburgh, as he presided at the head of the banquet ; it 
was a sight worth beholding : — there he sat, in his greatest glory 
surrounded by his soldiers, like that famous wine-bibber, Alex- 
ander, whose thirsty virtues he did most ably imitate — telling 
astounding stories of his hair-breadth adventures and heroic 
exploits ; at which, though all his auditors knew them to be 
incontinent lies and outrageous gasconadoes, yet did they cast up 
their eyes in admiration, and utter many interjections of aston- 
ishment. Nor could the general pronounce any thing that bore 
the remotest resemblance to a joke, but the stout Eisingh would 
strike his brawny fist upon the table till every glass rattled again, 
throw himself back in the chair, utter gigantic peals of laughter, 
and swear most horribly it was the best joke he ever heard in his 
life. — Thus all was rout and revelry and hideous carousal within 
Fort Casimir, and so lustily did Van Poffenburgh ply the bottle, 
that in less than four short hours he made himself and his whole 
garrison, who all sedulously emulated the deeds of their chieftain, 
dead drunk, with singing songs, quaffing bumpers, and drinking 
patriotic toasts, none of which but was as long as a Welsh pedi- 
gree or a plea in chancery. 

No sooner did things come to this pass, than Risingh and his 
Swedes, who had cunningly kept themselves sober, rose on their 
entertainers, tied them neck and heels, and took formal possession 
of the fort, and all its dependencies, in the name of Queen Chris- 
tina of Sweden ; administering at the same time an oath of alle- 
giance to all the Dutch soldiers who could be made sober enough 
to swallow it. Risingh then put the fortifications in order, ap- 
pointed his discreet and vigilant friend Suen S chute, otherwise 
called Skytte, a tall, wind-dried, water-drinking Swede, to the 
command, and departed, bearing with him this truly amiable 


garrison and its puissant commander ; who, when brought to 
himself by a sound drubbing, bore no little resemblance to a 
" deboshed fish," or bloated sea-monster, caught upon dry land. 

The transportation of the garrison was done to prevent the 
transmission of intelligence to New- Amsterdam ; for much as the 
cunning Risingh exulted in his stratagem, yet did he dread the 
vengeance of the sturdy Peter Stuyvesant ; whose name spread 
as much terror in the neighborhood as did whilom that of the 
unconquerable Scanderbeg among his scurvy enemies the Turks. 




Whoever first described common fame, or rumor, as belonging 
to the sager sex, was a very owl for shrewdness. She has in 
truth certain feminine qualities to an astonishing degree ; particu- 
larly that benevolent anxiety to take care of the affairs of others, 
which keeps her continually hunting after secrets, and gadding 
about proclaiming them. Whatever is done openly and in the 
face of the world, she takes but transient notice of; but whenever 
a transaction is done in a corner, and attempted to be shrouded 
in mystery, then her goddess-ship is at her wits' end to find it 
out, and takes a most mischievous and lady-like pleasure in pub- 
lishing it to the world. 

It is this truly feminine propensity which induces her con- 
tinually to be prying into the cabinets of princes, listening at the 
key-holes of senate-chambers, and peering through chinks and 
crannies, when our worthy congress are sitting with closed doors, 
deliberating between a dozen excellent modes of ruining the 
nation. It is this which makes her so baneful to all wary 


statesmen and intriguing commanders — such a stumbling-block 
to private negotiations and secret expeditions ; betraying them 
by means and instruments which never would have been thought 
of by any but a female head. 

Thus it was in the case of the affair of Fort Casimir. No 
doubt the cunning Risingh imagined, that, by securing the garri- 
son, he should for a long time prevent the history of its fate from 
reaching the ears of the gallant Stuyvesant ; but his exploit was 
blown to the world when he least expected ; and by one of the 
last beings he would ever have suspected of enlisting as trumpet- 
er to the wide-mouthed deity. 

This was one Dirk Schuiler (or Skulker), a kind of hanger- 
on to the garrison, who seemed to belong to nobody, and in a man- 
ner to be self-outlawed. He was one of those vagabond cosmo- 
polites who shark about the world, as if they had no right or 
business in it, and who infest the skirts of society like poachers 
and interlopers. Every garrison and country village has one or 
more scape-goats of this kind, whose life is a kind of enigma, 
whose existence is without motive, who comes from the Lord 
knows t where, who lives the Lord knows how, and who seems 
created for no other earthly purpose but to keep up the ancient 
and honorable order of idleness. This vagrant philosopher was 
supposed to have some Indian blood in his veins, which was 
manifested by a certain Indian complexion and cast of counte- 
nance ; but more especially by his propensities and habits. He 
was a tall, lank fellow, swift of foot, and long-winded. He was 
generally equipped in a half Lidian dress, with belt, leggings, 
and moccasons. His hair hung in straight gallows locks about 
his ears, and added not a little to his sharking demeanor. It is 
an old remark, that persons of Indian mixture are half civilized, 


half savage, and half devil — a third half being provided for 
their particular convenience. It is for similar reasons, and pro- 
bably with equal truth, that the backwoodsmen of Kentucky are 
styled half man, half horse, and half alligator, by the settlers 
on the Mississippi, and held accordingly in great respect and 

The above character may have presented itself to the garrison 
as applicable to Dirk Schuiler, whom they familiarly dubbed Gal- 
lows Dirk. Certain it is, he acknowledged allegiance to no one 
— was an utter enemy to work, holding it in no manner of esti- 
mation — but lounging about the fort, depending upon chance for 
a subsistence, getting drunk whenever he could get liquor, and 
stealing whatever he could lay his hands on. Every day or two 
he was sure to get a sound rib-roasting for some of his misde- 
meanors ; which, however, as it broke no bones, he made very 
light of, and scrupled not to repeat the offence whenever another 
opportunity presented. Sometimes, in consequence of some fla- 
grant villany, he would abscond from the garrison, and be absent 
for a month at a time ; skulking about the woods and swamps, 
with a long fowling-piece on his shoulder, lying in ambush for 
game — or squatting himself down on the edge of a pond catching 
fish for hours together, and bearing no little resemblance to that 
notable bird of the crane family, ycleped the Mudpoke. "When 
he thought his crimes had been forgotten or forgiven, he would 
sneak back to the fort with a bundle of skins, or a load of poultry, 
which, perchance, he had stolen, and would exchange them for 
liquor, with which having well soaked his carcass, he would lie in 
the sun and enjoy all the luxurious indolence of that swinish phi- 
losopher Diogenes. He was the terror of all the farm-yards in 
the country, into which he made fearful inroads ; and sometimes 


he would make his sudden appearance in the garrison at day- 
break, with the whole neighborhood at his heels ; like the scoun- 
drel thief of a fox, detected in his maraudings and hunted to his 
hole. Such was this Dirk Schuiler ; and from the total indiffer- 
ence he showed to the world and its concerns, and from his truly 
Indian stoicism and taciturnity, no one would ever have dreamt 
that he would have been the publisher of the treachery of Risingh. 

When the carousal was going on, which proved so fatal to the 
brave Poffenburgh and his watchful garrison, Dirk skulked about 
from room to room, being a kind of privileged vagrant, or useless 
hound, whom nobody noticed. But though a fellow of few words, 
yet, like your taciturn people, his eyes and ears were always open, 
and in the course of his prowlings he overheard the whole plot 
of the Swedes. Dirk immediately settled in his own mind how 
he should turn the matter to his own advantage. He played the 
perfect jack-of-both-sides — that is to say, he made a prize of 
every thing that came in his reach, robbed both parties, stuck the 
copper-bound cocked hat of the puissant Van Poffenburgh on his 
head, whipped a huge pair of Risingh's jack-boots under his arms, 
and took to his heels, just before the catastrophe and confusion at 
the garrison. 

Finding himself completely dislodged from his haunt in this 
quarter, he directed his flight towards his native place, New- 
Amsterdam, whence he had formerly been obliged to abscond pre- 
cipitately, in consequence of misfortune in business — that is to 
say, having been detected in the act of sheep-stealing. After 
wandering many days in the woods, toiling through swamps, ford- 
ing brooks, swimming various rivers, and encountering a world 
of hardships that would have killed any other being but an Indian, 
a backwoodsman, or the devil, he at length arrived, half-famished, 


and lank as a starved weasel, at Communipaw, where he stole a 
canoe, and paddled over to New- Amsterdam. Immediately on 
landing, he repaired to Governor Stuyvesant, and in more words 
than he had ever spoken before in the whole course of his life, 
gave an account of the disastrous affair. 

On receiving these direful tidings, the valiant Peter started 
from his seat — dashed the pipe he was smoking against the back 
of the chimney — thrust a prodigious quid of tobacco into his left 
cheek — pulled up his galligaskins, and strode up and down the 
room, humming, as was customary with him when in a passion, a 
hideous northwest ditty. But, as I have before shown, he was not 
a man to vent his spleen in idle vaporing. His first measure, 
after the paroxysm of wrath had subsided, was to stump up stairs 
to a huge wooden chest, which served as his armory, from whence 
he drew forth that identical suit of regimentals described in the 
preceding chapter. In these portentous habiliments he arrayed 
himself, like Achilles in the armor of Vulcan, maintaining all the 
while an appalling silence, knitting his brows, and drawing his 
breath through his clinched teeth. Being hastily equipped, he 
strode down into the parlor and jerked down his trusty sword from 
over the fireplace, where it was usually suspended ; but before 
he girded it on his thigh, he drew it from its scabbard, and as his 
eye coursed along the rusty blade, a grim smile stole over his iron 
visage — it was the first smile that had visited his countenance for 
five long weeks ; but every one who beheld it prophesied that 
there would soon be warm work in the province ! 

Thus armed at all points, with grisly war depicted in each 
feature, his very cocked hat assuming an air of uncommon defi- 
ance, he instantly put himself upon the alert, and dispatched An- 
tony Van Corlear hither and thither, this way and that way, 


through all the muddy streets and crooked lanes of the city, sum- 
moning by sound of trumpet his trusty peers to assemble in 
instant council. — This done, by way of expediting matters, ac- 
cording to the custom of people in a hurry, he kept in continual 
bustle, shifting from chair to chair, popping his head out of every 
window, and stumping up and down stairs with his wooden leg 
in such brisk and incessant motion, that, as we are informed by 
an authentic historian of the times, the continual clatter bore no 
small resemblance to the music of a cooper hooping a flour- 

A summons so peremptory, and from a man of the governor's 
mettle, was not to be trifled with : the sages forthwith repaired to 
the council-chamber, seated themselves with the utmost tranquil- 
lity, and lighting their long pipes, gazed with unruffled composure 
on his excellency and his regimentals ; being, as all counsellors 
should be, not easily flustered, nor taken by surprise. The gov- 
ernor, looking around for a moment with a lofty and soldier-like 
air, and resting one hand on the pommel of Ins sword, and fling- 
ing the other forth in a free and spirited manner, addressed them 
in a short but soul-stirring harangue. 

I am extremely sorry that I have not the advantages of Livy, 
Thucydides, Plutarch, and others of my predecessors, who were 
furnished, as I am told, with the speeches of all their heroes, 
taken down in short hand by the most accurate stenographers 
of the time ; whereby they were enabled wonderfully to enrich 
their histories, and delight their readers with sublime strains of 
eloquence. Not having such important auxiliaries, I cannot pos- 
sibly pronounce what was the tenor of Governor Stuyvesant's 
speech. I am bold, however, to say, from the tenor of his cha- 
racter, that he did not wrap his rugged subject in silks and 


ermines, and other sickly trickeries of phrase ; but spoke forth 
like a man of nerve and vigor, who scorned to shrink in words 
from those dangers which he stood ready to encounter in very 
deed. This much is certain, that he concluded by announcing his 
determination to lead on his troops in person, and rout these cos- 
tard-monger Swedes from their usurped quarters at Fort Casimir. 
To this hardy resolution, such of his council as were awake gave 
their usual signal of concurrence ; and as to the rest, who had 
fallen asleep about the middle of the harangue (their " usual cus- 
tom in the afternoon"), they made not the least objection. 

And now was seen in the fair city of New- Amsterdam a pro- 
digious bustle and preparation for iron war. Recruiting parties 
marched hither and thither, calling lustily upon all the scrubs, 
the runagates, and tatterdemalions of the Manhattoes and its 
vicinity, who had any ambition of sixpence a day, and immortal 
fame into the bargain, to enlist in the cause of glory : — for 1 
would have you note that your warlike heroes who trudge in the 
rear of conquerors are generally of that illustrious class of gen- 
tlemen, who are equal candidates for the army or the bridewell — 
the halberds or the whipping-post — for whom Dame Fortune has 
cast an even die, whether they shall make their exit by the sword 
or the halter — and whose deaths shall, at all events, be a lofty 
example to their countrymen. 

But, notwithstanding all this martial rout and invitation, the 
ranks of honor were but scantily supplied ; so averse were the 
peaceful burghers of New- Amsterdam from enlisting in foreign 
broils, or stirring beyond that home, which rounded all their 
earthly ideas. Upon beholding this, the great Peter, whose noble 
heart was all on fire with war and sweet revenge, determined to 
wait no longer for the tardy assistance of these oily citizens, but 



to muster up his merry men of the Hudson, who, brought up 
among woods, and wilds, and savage beasts, like our yeomen of 
Kentucky, delighted in nothing so much as desperate adventures 
and perilous expeditions through the wilderness. Thus resolving, 
he ordered his trusty squire Antony Van Corlear to have his state 
galley prepared and duly victualed ; which being performed, he 
attended public service at the great church of St. Nicholas, like 
a true and pious governor ; and then leaving peremptory orders 
with his council to have the chivalry of the Manhattoes marshaled 
out and appointed against his return, departed upon his recruiting 
voyage, up the waters of the Hudson. 



Now did the soft breezes of the south steal sweetly over the face 
of nature, tempering the panting heats of summer into genial 
and prolific warmth ; when that miracle of hardihood and chival- 
ric virtue, the dauntless Peter Stujvesant, spread his canvas to 
the wind, and departed from the fair island of Manna-hata. The 
galley in which he embarked was sumptuously adorned with 
pendants and streamers of gorgeous dyes, which fluttered gayly 
in the wind, or drooped their ends into the bosom of the stream. 
The bow and poop of this majestic vessel were gallantly bedight, 
after the rarest Dutch fashion, with figures of little pursy Cupids 
with periwigs on their heads, and bearing in their hands garlands 
of flowers, the like of which are not to be found in any book of 
botany ; being the matchless flowers which flourished in the golden 
age, and exist no longer, unless it be in the imaginations of inge- 
nious carvers of wood and discolorers of canvas. 

Thus rarely decorated, in style befitting the puissant potentate 
of the Manhattoes, did the galley of Peter Stuyvesant launch 


forth upon the bosom of the lordly Hudson, which, as it rolled its 
broad waves to the ocean, seemed to pause for a while and swell 
with pride, as if conscious of the illustrious burthen it sustained. 

But trust me, gentlefolk, far other was the scene presented to 
the contemplation of the crew from that which may be witnessed 
at this degenerate day. Wildness and savage majesty reigned on 
the borders of this mighty river — the hand of cultivation had 
not as yet laid low the dark forest, and tamed the features of the 
landscape — nor had the frequent sail of commerce broken in upon 
the profound and awful solitude of ages. Here and there might 
be seen a rude wigwam perched among the cliffs of the mountains 
with its curling column of smoke mounting in the transparent 
atmosphere — but so loftily situated that the whoopings of the 
savage children, gamboling on the margin of the dizzy heights, 
fell almost as faintly on the ear as do the notes of the lark, when 
lost in the azure vault of heaven. Now and then, from the 
beetling brow of some precipice, the wild deer would look timidly 
down upon the splendid pageant as it passed below ; and then, 
tossing his antlers in the air, would bound away into the thick 
ets of the forest. 

Through such scenes did the stately vessel of Peter Stuyve- 
sant pass. Now did they skirt the bases of the rocky heights of 
Jersey, which spring up like everlasting walls, reaching from the 
waves unto the heavens, and were fashioned, if tradition may be 
believed, in times long past, by the mighty spirit Manetho, to pro- 
tect his favorite abodes from the unhallowed eyes of mortals. 
Now did they career it gayly across the vast expanse of Tappan 
Bay, whose wide-extended shores present a variety of delectable 
scenery — here the bold promontory, crowned with embowering 
trees, advancing into the bay — there the long woodland slope, 


sweeping up from the shore in rich luxuriance, and terminating in 
the upland precipice — while at a distance a long waving line of 
rocky heights threw their gigantic shades across the water. Now 
would they pass where some modest little interval, opening among 
these stupendous scenes, yet retreating as it were for protection into 
the embraces of the neighboring mountains, displayed a rural para- 
dise, fraught with sweet and pastoral beauties ; the velvet-tufted 
lawn — the bushy copse — the tinkling rivulet, stealing through the 
fresh and vivid verdure — on whose banks was situated some little 
Indian village, or, peradventure, the rude cabin of some solitary 

The different periods of the revolving day seemed each, with 
cunning magic, to diffuse a different charm over the scene. Now 
would the jovial sun break gloriously from the east, blazing from 
the summits of the hills, and sparkling the landscape with a 
thousand dewy gems ; while along the borders of the river were 
seen heavy masses of mist, which, like midnight caitiffs, disturbed 
at his approach, made a sluggish retreat, rolling in sullen reluc- 
tance up the mountains. At such times all was brightness, and 
life, and gayety — the atmosphere was of an indescribable pure- 
ness and transparency — the birds broke forth in wanton madrigals, 
and the freshening breezes wafted the vessel merrily on her 
course. But when the sun sunk amid a flood of glory in the 
west, mantling the heavens and the earth with a thousand gor- 
geous dyes — then all was calm, and silent, and magnificent. The 
late swelling sail hung lifelessly against the mast — the seaman, with 
folded arms, leaned against the shrouds, lost in that involuntary 
musing which the sober grandeur of nature commands in the 
rudest of her children. The vast bosom of the Hudson was like 
an unruffled mirror, reflecting the golden splendor of the heavens ; 


excepting that now and then a bark canoe would steal across its 
surface, filled with painted savages, whose gay feathers glared 
brightly, as perchance a lingering ray of the setting sun gleamed 
upon them from the western mountains. 

But when the hour of twilight spread its majestic mists 
around, then did the face of nature assume a thousand fugitive 
charms, which to the worthy heart that seeks enjoyment in the 
glorious works of its Maker are inexpressibly captivating. The 
mellow dubious light that prevailed just served to tinge with illu- 
sive colors the softened features of the scenery. The deceived 
but delighted eye sought vainly to discern in the broad masses of 
shade, the separating line between the land and water ; or to dis- 
tinguish the fading objects that seemed sinking into chaos. Now 
did the busy fancy supply the feebleness of vision, producing with 
industrious craft a fairy creation of her own. Under her plastic 
wand the barren rocks frowned upon the watery waste, in the 
semblance of lofty towers, and high embattled castles — trees 
assumed the direful forms of mighty giants, and the inaccessible 
summits of the mountains seemed peopled with a thousand shad- 
owy beings. 

Now broke forth from the shores the notes of an innumerable 
variety of insects, which filled the air with a strange but not 
inharmonious concert — while ever and anon was heard the mel- 
ancholy plaint of the Whip-poor-will, who, perched on some lone 
tree, wearied the ear of night with his incessant moanings. The 
mind, soothed into a hallowed melancholy, listened with pensive 
stillness to catch and distinguish each sound that vaguely echoed 
from the shore — now and then startled perchance by the whoop 
of some straggling savage, or by the dreary howl of a wolf, steal- 
ing forth upon his nightly prowlings. 


Thus happily did they pursue their course, until they entered 
upon those awful denies denominated the highlands, where it 
would seem that the gigantic Titans had erst waged their impious 
war with heaven, piling up cliffs on cliffs, and hurling vast masses 
of rock in wild confusion. But in sooth very different is the 
history of these cloud-capt mountains. — These in ancient days, 
before the Hudson poured its waters from the lakes, formed one 
vast prison, within whose rocky bosom the omnipotent Manetho 
confined the rebellious spirits who repined at his control. Here, 
bound in adamantine chains, or jammed in rifted pines, or crushed 
by ponderous rocks, they groaned for many an age. — At length 
the conquering Hudson, in its career towards the ocean, burst 
open their prison-house, rolling its tide triumphantly through the 
stupendous ruins. 

Still, however, do many of them lurk about their old abodes ; 
and these it is, according to venerable legends, that cause the 
echoes which resound throughout these awful solitudes ; which 
are nothing but their angry clamors when any noise disturbs the 
profoundness of their repose. — For when the elements are agi- 
tated by tempest, when the winds are up and the thunder rolls, 
then horrible is the yelling and howling of these troubled spirits, 
making the mountains to rebellow with their hideous uproar ; for 
at such times it is said that they think the great Manetho is 
returning once more to plunge them in gloomy caverns, and 
renew their intolerable captivity. 

But all these fair and glorious scenes were lost upon the gal- 
lant Stuyvesant ; naught occupied his mind but thoughts of iron 
war, and proud anticipations of hardy deeds of arms. Neither 
did his honest crew trouble their heads with any romantic specu- 
lations of the kind. The pilot at the helm quietly smoked his 


pipe, thinking of nothing either past, present, or to come — those 
of his comrades who were not industriously smoking under the 
hatches were listening with open mouths to Antony Van Cor- 
lear ; who, seated on the windlass, was relating to them the mar- 
velous history of those myriads of fireflies, that sparkled like 
gems and spangles upon the dusky robe of night. These, ac- 
cording to tradition, were originally a race of pestilent sempiter- 
nous beldames, who peopled these parts long before the memory 
of man ; being of that abominated race emphatically called 
brimstones ; and who, for their innumerable sins against the chil- 
dren of men, and to furnish an awful warning to the beauteous 
sex, were doomed to infest the earth in the shape of these threat- 
ening and terrible little bugs ; enduring the internal torments of 
that fire, which they formerly carried in their hearts and breathed 
forth in their words ; but now are sentenced to bear about for 
ever — in their tails ! 

And now I am going to tell a fact, which I doubt much my 
readers will hesitate to believe ; but if they do, they are welcome 
not to believe a word in this whole history — for nothing which it 
contains is more true. It must be known then that the nose of 
Antony the Trumpeter was of a very lusty size, strutting boldly 
from his countenance like a mountain of Golconda ; being sump- 
tuously bedecked with rubies and other precious stones — the true 
regalia of a king of good fellows, which jolly Bacchus grants to 
all who bouse it heartily at the flagon. Now thus it happened, 
that bright and early in the morning, the good Antony, having 
washed his burly visage, was leaning over the quarter railing of 
the galley, contemplating it in the glassy wave below. — Just at 
this moment the illustrious sun, breaking in all his splendor from 
behind a high bluff of the highlands, did dart one of his most 


potent beams full upon the refulgent nose of the sounder of brass 
— the reflection of which shot straightway down, hissing hot, into 
the water, and killed a mighty sturgeon that was sporting beside 
the vessel ! This huge monster being with infinite labor hoisted 
on board, furnished a luxurious repast to all the crew, being 
accounted of excellent flavor, excepting about the wound, where 
it smacked a little of brimstone — and this, on my veracity, war, 
the first time that ever sturgeon was eaten in these parts by 
Christian people.* 

When this astonishing miracle came to be made known to 
Peter Stuyvesant, and that he tasted of the unknown fish, he, as 
may well be supposed, marveled exceedingly ; and as a monu- 
ment thereof, he gave the name of Antony's Nose to a stout pro- 
montory in the neighborhood — and it has continued to be called 
Antony's Nose ever since that time. 

But hold : whither am I wandering ? By the mass, if I 
attempt to accompany the good Peter Stuyvesant on this voyage, 
I shall never make an end ; for never was there a voyage so 
fraught with marvelous incidents, nor a river so abounding with 
transcendant beauties, worthy of being severally recorded. Even 
now I have it on the point of my pen to relate how his crew were 
most horribly frightened, on going on shore above the highlands, 
by a gang of merry roistering devils, frisking and curveting on a 
flat rock, which projected into the river — and which is called the 
DuyveVs Dans-Kamer to this very day. — But no! Diedrich 

* The learned Hans Megapolonsis, treating of the country about Albany, 
in a letter which was written sometime after the settlement thereof, says, 
" There is in the river great plenty of sturgeon, which we Christians do not 
make use of, but the Indians eat them greedily." 


Knickerbocker — it becomes thee not to idle thus in thy historic 

Recollect that while dwelling with the fond garrulity of age 
over these fairy scenes, endeared to thee by the recollections of 
thy youth, and the charms of a thousand legendary tales, which 
beguiled the simple ear of thy childhood ; recollect that thou art 
trifling with those fleeting moments which should be devoted to 
loftier themes. — Is not Time — relentless Time ! shaking, with 
palsied hand, his almost exhausted hour-glass before thee? — 
hasten then to pursue thy weary task, lest the last sands be run 
ere thou hast finished thy history of the Manhattoes. 

Let us, then, commit the dauntless Peter, his brave galley, and 
his loyal crew, to the protection of the blessed St. Nicholas ; who, 
I have no doubt, will prosper him in his voyage, while we await 
his return at the great city of New- Amsterdam. 




While thus the enterprising Peter was coasting, with flowing 
sail, up the shores of the lordly Hudson, and arousing all the 
phlegmatic little Dutch settlements upon its borders, a great and 
puissant concourse of warriors was assembling at the city of New- 
Amsterdam. And here that invaluable fragment of antiquity, the 
Stuyvesant manuscript, is more than commonly particular; by 
which means I am enabled to record the illustrious host that en- 
camped itself in the public square in front of the fort, at present 
denominated the Bowling Green. 

In the centre, then, was pitched the tent of the men of battle 
of the Manhattoes, who being the inmates of the metropolis, com- 
posed the lifeguards of the governor. These were commanded 
by the valiant Stoffel Brinkerhoof, who whilom had acquired such 
immortal fame at Oyster Bay — they displayed as a standard a 
beaver rampant on a field of orange ; being the arms of the 


province, and denoting the persevering industry and the amphibi- 
ous origin of the Nederlanders.* 

On their right hand might be seen the vassals of that renowned 
Mynheer, Michael Paw,t who lorded it over the fair regions of 
ancient Pavonia, and the lands away south, even unto the Nave- 
sink mountains,! and was moreover patroon of Gibbet Island. 
His standard was borne by his trusty squire, Cornelius Van 
Vorst ; consisting of a huge oyster recumbent upon a sea-green 
field ; being the armorial bearings of his favorite metropolis, 
Communipaw. He brought to the camp a stout force of warriors, 
heavily armed, being each clad in ten pair of linsey-woolsey 
breeches, and overshadowed by broad-brimmed beavers, with 
short pipes twisted in their hatbands. These were the men who 
vegetated in the mud along the shores of Pavonia ; being of the 
race of genuine copperheads, and were fabled to have sprung 
from oysters. 

At a little distance was encamped the tribe of warriors who 
came from the neighborhood of Hell-gate. These were com- 

* This was likewise the great seal of the New-Netherlands, as may still be 
seen in ancient records. 

t Besides what is related in the Stuyvesant MS. I have found mention 
made of this illustrious patroon in another manuscript, which says : " De Heer 
(or the squire) Michael Paw, a Dutch subject, about 10th Aug. 1630, by deed 
purchased Staten-Island. N. B. The same Michael Paw had what the Dutch 
call a colonie at Pavonia, on the Jersey shore, opposite New- York, and his 
overseer in 1636 was named Corns. Van Vorst — a person of the same name 
in 1769, owned Pawles Hook, and a large farm at Pavonia, and is a lineal de- 
scendant from Van Vorst." 

X So called from the Navesink tribe of Indians that inhabited these parts— 
at present they are erroneously denominated the Neversink, or Neversunk 


manded by the Suy Dams, and the Van Dams, incontinent hard 
swearers, as their names betoken — they were terrible looking 
fellows, clad in broad-skirted gaberdines, of that curious colored 
cloth called thunder and lightning — and bore as a standard three 
Devil's darning-needles, volant, in a flame-colored field. 

Hard by was the tent of the men of battle from the marshy 
borders of the Waale-Boght* and the country thereabouts — these 
were of a sour aspect, by reason that they lived on crabs, which 
abound in these parts. They were the first institutors of that 
honorable order of knighthood, called Fly-market shirks, and if 
tradition speak true, did likewise introduce the far-famed step in 
dancing, called " double trouble." They were commanded by 
the fearless Jacobus Varra Vanger, and had, moreover, a jolly 
band of Breuckelenf ferry-men, who performed a brave concerto 
on conch shells. 

But I refrain from pursuing this minute description, which 
goes on to describe the warriors of Bloemen-dael, and Wee-hawk, 
and Hoboken, and sundry other places, well known in history and 
song — for now do the notes of martial music alarm the people of 
New- Amsterdam, sounding afar from beyond the walls of the city. 
But this alarm was in a little while relieved, for lo, from the 
midst of a vast cloud of dust, they recognized the brimstone-col- 
ored breeches and splendid silver leg of Peter Stuyvesant, glaring 
in the sunbeams ; and beheld him approaching at the head of a 
formidable army, which he had mustered along the banks of the 
Hudson. And here the excellent but anonymous writer of the 
Stuyvesant manuscript breaks out into a brave and glorious de- 

* Since corrupted into the Wallabout ; the bay where the Navy- Yard ia 

t Now spelt Brooklyn. 


scription of the forces, as they defiled through the principal gate 
of the city, that stood by the head of Wall-street. 

First of all came the Van Bum m els, who inhabit the pleasant 
borders of the Bronx : these were short fat men, wearing exceed- 
ing large trunk -breeches, and were renowned for feats of the 
trencher — they were the first inventors of suppawn or mush and 
milk. — Close in their rear marched the Van Vlotens, of Kaats- 
kill, horrible quaifers of new cider, and arrant braggarts in 
their liquor. — After them came the Van Pelts of Groodt Eso- 
pus, dextrous horsemen, mounted upon goodly switch-tailed 
steeds of the Esopus breed — these were mighty hunters of minks 
and muskrats, whence came the word Peltry. — Then the Van 
Nests of Kinderhoeck, valiant robbers of birds' nests, as their 
name denotes ; to these, if report may be believed, are we indebted 
for the invention of slap-jacks, or buckwheat cakes. — Then the 
Van Higginbottoms, of Wapping's creek ; these came armed with 
ferules and birchen rods, being a race of schoolmasters, who first 
discovered the marvelous sympathy between the seat of honor 
and the seat of intellect — and that the shortest way to get know- 
ledge into the head was to hammer it into the bottom. — Then the 
Van Grolls, of Anthony's Nose, who carried their liquor in fair 
round little pottles, by reason they could not bouse it out of their 
canteens, having such rare long noses. — Then the Gardeniers, of 
Hudson and thereabouts, distinguished by many triumphant feats, 
such as robbing watermelon patches, smoking rabbits out of their 
holes, and the like, and by being great lovers of roasted pigs' 
tails ; these were the ancestors of the renowned congressman of 
that name. — Then the Van Hoesens, of Sing-Sing, great choris- 
ters and players upon the jewsharp ; these marched two and two, 
singing the great song of St. Nicholas. — Then the Couenho- 


vens, of Sleepy Hollow ; these gave birth to a jolly race of pub- 
licans, who first discovered the magic artifice of conjuring a quart 
of wine into a pint bottle. — Then the Van Kortlandts, who lived 
on the wild banks of the Croton, and were great killers of wild 
ducks, being much spoken of for their skill in shooting with the 
long bow. — Then the Van Bunschotens, of Nyack and Kakiat, 
who were the first that did ever kick with the left foot ; they were 
gallant bush-whackers and hunters of racoons by moonlight. — 
Then the Van Winkles, of Haerlem, potent suckers of eggs, 
and noted for running of horses, and running up of scores at 
taverns ; they were the first that ever winked with both eyes at 
once. — Lastly came the Knickerbockers, of the great town of 
Scaghtikoke, where the folk lay stones upon the houses in windy 
weather, lest they should be blown away. These derive their 
name, as some say, from Knicher, to shake, and Beker, a goblet, 
indicating thereby that they were sturdy toss-pots of yore ; but, 
in truth, it was derived from Knicher, to nod, and Boeken, books ; 
plainly meaning that they were great nodders or dozers over 
books — from them did descend the writer of this history. 

Such was the legion of sturdy bush-beaters that poured in at 
the grand gate of New- Amsterdam ; the Stuyvesant manuscript 
indeed speaks of many more, whose names I omit to mention, 
seeing that it behooves me to hasten to matters of greater moment. 
Nothing could surpass the joy and martial pride of the lion-hearted 
Peter as he reviewed this mighty host of warriors, and he deter- 
mined no longer to defer the gratification of his much-wished-for 
revenge, upon the scoundrel Swedes at Fort Casimir. 

But before I hasten to record those unmatchable events, which 
will be found in the sequel of this faithful history, let me pause 
to notice the fate of Jacobus Van Poffenburgh, the discomfited 


commander-in-chief of the armies of the New-Netherlands. Such 
is the inherent uncharitableness of human nature, that scarcely 
did the news become public of his deplorable discomfiture at Fort 
Casimir, than a thousand scurvy rumors were set afloat in New- 
Amsterdam, wherein it was insinuated, that he had in reality a 
treacherous understanding with the Swedish commander ; that he 
had long been in the practice of privately communicating with 
the Swedes; together with divers hints about "secret service 
money." — To all which deadly charges I do not give a jot more 
credit than I think they deserve. 

Certain it is, that the general vindicated his character by the 
most vehement oaths and protestations, and put every man out 
of the ranks of honor who dared to doubt his integrity. Moreo- 
ver, on returning to New- Amsterdam, he paraded up and down 
the streets with a crew of hard swearers at his heels — sturdy 
bottle companions, whom he gorged and fattened, and who were 
ready to bolster him through all the courts of justice— heroes of 
his own kidney, fierce-whiskered, broad-shouldered, colbrand-look- 
ing swaggerers — not one of whom but looked as though he could 
eat up an ox, and pick his teeth with the horns. These lifeguard 
men quarreled all his quarrels, were ready to fight all his battles, 
and scowled at every man that turned up his nose at the general, 
as though they would devour him alive. Their conversation was 
interspersed with oaths like minute-guns, and every bombastic 
rhodomontade was rounded off by a thundering execration, like a 
patriotic toast honored with a discharge of artillery. 

All these valorous vaporings had a considerable effect in con- 
vincing certain profound sages, who began to think the general 
a hero, of unmatchable loftiness and magnanimity of soul ; par- 
ticularly as he was continually protesting on the honor of a soldier 


— a marvelously high-sounding asseveration. Nay, one of the 
members of the council went so far as to propose they should 
immortalize him by an imperishable statue of plaster of Paris. 

But the vigilant Peter the Headstrong was not thus to be de- 
ceived. Sending privately for the commander-in-chief of all the 
armies, and having heard all his story, garnished with the customa- 
ry pious oaths, protestations, and ejaculations — " Harkee, com- 
rade," cried he, " though by your own account you are the most 
brave, upright, and honorable man in the whole province, yet do 
you lie under the misfortune of being damnably traduced, and im- 
measurably despised. Now, though it is certainly hard to punish 
a man for his misfortunes, and though it is very possible you are 
totally innocent of the crimes laid to your charge ; yet as heaven, 
doubtless for some wise purpose, sees fit at present to withhold 
all proofs of your innocence, far be it from me to counteract its 
sovereign will. Beside, I cannot consent to venture my armies 
with a commander whom they despise, nor to trust the welfare 
of my people to a champion whom they distrust. Retire therefore, 
my friend, from the irksome toils and cares of public life, with 
this comforting reflection — that if guilty, you are but enjoying 
your just reward — and if innocent, you are not the first great 
and good man who has most wrongfully been slandered and mal- 
treated in this wicked world — doubtless to be better treated in a 
better world, where there shall be neither error, calumny, nor 
persecution. In the meantime let me never see your face again, 
for I have a horrible antipathy to the countenances of unfortunate 
great men like yourself/' 



As my readers and myself are about entering on as many perils 
as ever a confederacy of meddlesome knights-errant willfully ran 
their heads into, it is meet that, like those hardy adventurers, we 
should join hands, bury all differences, and swear to stand by one 
another, in weal or woe, to the end of the enterprise. My read- 
ers must doubtless perceive how completely I have altered my 
tone and deportment since we first set out together. I warrant 
they then thought me a crabbed, cynical, impertinent little son 
of a Dutchman ; for I scarcely ever gave them a civil word, nor 
so much as touched my beaver, when I had occasion to address 
them. But as we jogged along together on the high road of my 
history, I gradually began to relax, to grow more courteous, and 
occasionally to enter into familiar discourse, until at length I 
came to conceive a most social, companionable kind of regard for 
them. This is just my way — I am always a little cold and 
reserved at first, particularly to people whom I neither know nor 
care for, and am only to be completely won by long intimacy. 



Besides, why should I have been sociable to the crowd of 
how-d'ye-do acquaintances that flocked around me at my first 
appearance ? Many were merely attracted by a new face ; and 
having stared me full in the title-page, walked off without saying 
a word ; while others lingered yawningly through the preface, 
and, having gratified their short-lived curiosity, soon dropped off 
one by one. But, more especially to try their mettle, I had 
recourse to an expedient, similar to one which we are told was 
used by that peerless flower of chivalry, King Arthur ; who, 
before he admitted any knight to his intimacy, first required that 
he should show himself superior to danger or hardships, by 
encountering unheard-of mishaps, slaying some dozen giants, 
vanquishing wicked enchanters, not to say a word of dwarfs, 
hippogriffs, and fiery dragons. On a similar principle did I cun- 
ningly lead my readers, at the first sally, into two or three knotty 
chapters, where they were most wofully belabored and buffeted, 
by a host of pagan philosophers and infidel writers. Though 
naturally a very grave man, yet could I scarce refrain from 
smiling outright at seeing the utter confusion and dismay of my 
valiant cavaliers. Some dropped down dead (asleep) on the 
field ; others threw down my book in the middle of the first 
chapter, took to their heels, and never ceased scampering until 
they had fairly run it out of sight ; when they stopped to take 
breath, to tell their friends what troubles they had undergone, and 
to warn all others from venturing on so thankless an expedition. 
Every page thinned my ranks more and more ; and of the vast 
multitude that first set out, but a comparatively few made shift to 
survive, in exceedingly battered condition, through the five intro- 
ductory chapters. 

What, then! would you have had me take such sunshine, 


faint-hearted recreants to my bosom at our first acquaintance? 
No — no ; I reserved my friendship for those who deserved it, for 
those who undauntedly bore me company, in despite of difficulties, 
dangers and fatigues. And now, as to those who adhere to me at 
present, I take them affectionately by the hand. — Worthy and 
thrice-beloved readers ! brave and well-tried comrades ! who have 
faithfully followed my footsteps through all my wanderings — I 
salute you from my heart — I pledge myself to stand by you to 
the last ; and to conduct you (so Heaven speed this trusty 
weapon which I now hold between my fingers) triumphantly to 
the end of this our stupendous undertaking. 

But, hark! while we are thus talking, the city of New- 
Amsterdam is in a bustle. The host of warriors encamped in 
the Bowling Green are striking their tents ; the brazen trumpet 
of Antony Yan Corlear makes the welkin to resound with por- 
tentous clangor — the drums beat — the standards of the Manhat- 
toes, of Hell-gate, and of Michael Paw, wave proudly in the air. 
And now behold where the mariners are busily employed, hoisting 
the sails of yon topsail schooner, and those clump-built sloops, 
which are to waft the army of the Nederlanders to gather immor- 
tal honors on the Delaware ! 

The entire population of the city, man, woman, and child, 
turned out to behold the chivalry of New- Amsterdam, as it paraded 
the streets previous to embarkation. Many a handkerchief was 
waved out of the windows ; many a fair nose was blown in 
melodious sorrow on the mournful occasion. The grief of the 
fair dames and beauteous damsels of Granada could not have 
been more vociferous on the banishment of the gallant tribe of 
Abencerrages, than was that of the kind-hearted fair ones of 
New-Amsterdam on the departure of their intrepid warriors. 


Every love-sick maiden fondly crammed the pockets of her hero 
with gingerbread and doughnuts — many a copper ring was 
exchanged, and crooked sixpence broken, in pledge of eternal 
constancy — and there remain extant to this day some love-verses 
written on that occasion, sufficiently crabbed and incomprehensible 
to confound the whole universe. 

But it was a moving sight to see the buxom lasses, how they 
hung about the doughty Antony Van Corlear — for he was a 
jolly, rosy-faced, lusty bachelor, fond of his joke, and withal a 
desperate rogue among the women. Fain would they have kept 
him to comfort them while the army was away ; for besides what 
I have said of him, it is no more than justice to add, that he was 
a kind-hearted soul, noted for his benevolent attentions in com- 
forting disconsolate wives during the absence of their husbands — 
and this made him to be very much regarded by the honest 
burghers of the city. But nothing could keep the valiant Antony 
from following the heels of the old governor, whom he loved as he 
did his very soul — so embracing all the young vrouws, and giving 
every one of them that had good teeth and rosy lips a dozen 
hearty smacks, he departed loaded with their kind wishes. 

Nor was the departure of the gallant Peter among the least 
causes of public distress. Though the old governor was by no 
means indulgent to the follies and waywardness of his subjects, 
yet somehow or other he had become strangely popular among 
the people. There is something so captivating in personal 
bravery, that, with the common mass of mankind, it takes the 
lead of most other merits. The simple folk of New- Amsterdam 
looked upon Peter Stuyvesant as a prodigy of valor. His wooden 
leg, that trophy of his martial encounters, was regarded with 
reverence and admiration. Every old burgher had a budget of 


miraculous stories to tell about the exploits of Hardkoppig Piet, 
wherewith he regaled his children of a long winter night ; and on 
which he dwelt with as much delight and exaggeration, as do our 
honest country yeomen on the hardy adventures of old General 
Putnam (or, as he is familiarly termed, Old Put) during our 
glorious revolution. Not an individual but verily believed the 
old governor was a match for Beelzebub himself; and there was 
even a story told, with great mystery, and under the rose, of his 
having shot the devil with a silver bullet one dark stormy night, 
as he was sailing in a canoe through Hell-gate — but this I do not 
record as being an absolute fact. Perish the man who would let 
fall a drop to discolor the pure stream of history ! 

Certain it is, not an old woman in New- Amsterdam but con- 
sidered Peter Stuyvesant as a tower of strength, and rested 
satisfied that the public welfare was secure, so long as he was 
in the city. It is not surprising, then, that they looked upon his 
departure as a sore affliction. With heavy hearts they draggled 
at the heels of his troop, as they marched down to the river side 
to embark. The governor from the stern of his schooner gave a 
short but truly patriarchal address to his citizens, wherein he 
recommended them to comport like loyal and peaceable subjects — 
to go to church regularly on Sundays, and to mind their business 
all the week besides. That the women should be dutiful and affec- 
tionate to their husbands — looking after nobody's concerns but 
their own ; eschewing all gossipings, and morning gaddings — and 
carrying short tongues and long petticoats. That the men should 
abstain from intermeddling in public concerns, intrusting the 
cares of government to the officers appointed to support them — 
staying at home, like good citizens, making money for themselves, 
and getting children for the benefit of their country. That the 


burgomasters should look well to the public interest— not op- 
pressing the poor nor indulging the rich — not tasking their inge- 
nuity to devise new laws, but faithfully enforcing those which were 
already made — rather bending their attention to prevent evil than 
to punish it ; ever recollecting that civil magistrates should con- 
sider themselves more as guardians of public morals than rat- 
catchers employed to entrap public delinquents. Finally, he 
exhorted them, one and all, high and low, rich and poor, to 
conduct themselves as well as they could, assuring them that if 
they faithfully and conscientiously complied with this golden rule, 
there was no danger but that they would all conduct themselves 
well enough. This done, he gave them a paternal benediction ; 
the sturdy Antony sounded a most loving farewell with his trum- 
pet, the jolly crews put up a shout of triumph, and the invincible 
armada swept off proudly down the bay. 

The good people of New- Amsterdam crowded down to the 
Battery — that blest resort, from whence so many a tender prayer 
has been wafted, so many a fair hand waved, so many a tearful 
look been cast by love-sick damsel, after the lessening bark, bear- 
ing her adventurous swain to distant climes ! — Here the populace 
watched with straining eyes the gallant squadron, as it slowly 
floated down the bay, and when the intervening land at the 
Narrows shut it from their sight, gradually dispersed with silent 
tongues and downcast countenances. 

A heavy gloom hung over the late bustling city — the honest 
burghers smoked their pipes in profound thoughtfulness, casting 
many a wistful look to the weather-cock on the church of St. 
Nicholas ; and all the old women, having no longer the presence 
of Peter Stuyvesant to hearten them, gathered their children home, 

and barricaded the doors and windows every evening at sundown. 


.. J 


In the meanwhile the armada of the sturdy Peter proceeded 
prosperously on its voyage, and after encountering about as many 
storms, and water-spouts, and whales, and other horrors and 
phenomena, as generally befall adventurous landsmen in perilous 
voyages of the kind ; and after undergoing a severe scouring 
from that deplorable and unpitied malady called sea-sickness, the 
whole squadron arrived safely in the Delaware. 

Without so much as dropping anchor and giving his wearied 
ships time to breathe, after laboring so long on the ocean, the 
intrepid Peter pursued his course up the Delaware, and made a 
sudden appearance before Fort Casimir. Having summoned the 
astonished garrison by a terrific blast from the trumpet of the 
long-winded Van Corlear, he demanded, in a tone of thunder, an 
instant surrender of the fort. To this demand, Suen Skytte, the 
wind-dried commandant, replied in a shrill whiffling voice, which, 
by reason of his extreme spareness, sounded like the wind whis- 
tling through a broken bellows — "that he had no very strong 
reason for refusing, except that the demand was particularly 
disagreeable, as he had been ordered to maintain his post to the 
last extremity." He requested time, therefore, to consult with 
Governor Risingh, and proposed a truce for that purpose. 

The choleric Peter, indignant at having his rightful fort so 
treacherously taken from him, and thus pertinaciously withheld, 
refused the proposed armistice, and swore by the pipe of St. 
Nicholas, which, like the sacred fire, was never extinguished, 
that unless the fort were surrendered in ten minutes, he would 
incontinently storm the works, make all the garrison run the 
gauntlet, and split their scoundrel of a commander like a pickled 
shad. To give this menace the greater effect, he drew forth his 
trusty sword, and shook it at them with such a fierce and vigor- 


ous motion, that doubtless, if it had not been exceeding rusty, it 
would have lightened terror into the ejes and hearts of the ene- 
my. He then ordered his men to bring a broadside to bear upon 
the fort, consisting of two swivels, three muskets, a long duck 
fowling-piece, and two brace of horse-pistols. 

In the meantime the sturdy Van Corlear marshaled all his 
forces, and commenced his warlike operations. Distending his 
cheeks like a very Boreas, he kept up a most horrific twanging 
of his trumpet — the lusty choristers of Sing-Sing broke forth 
into a hideous song of battle — the warriors of Breuckelen and 
the Wallabout blew a potent and astounding blast on their conch 
shells, altogether forming as outrageous a concerto as though five 
thousand French fiddlers were displaying their skill in a modern 

Whether the formidable front of war thus suddenly presented 
smote the garrison with sore dismay — or whether the concluding 
terms of the summons, which mentioned that he should surrender 
" at discretion," were mistaken by Suen Skytte, who, though a 
Swede was a very considerate, easy-tempered man — as a compli- 
ment to his discretion, I will not take upon me to say ; certain it 
is he found it impossible to resist so courteous a demand. Ac- 
cordingly, in the very nick of time, just as the cabin-boy had 
gone after a coal of fire, to discharge the swivel, a chamade 
was beat on the rampart by the only drum in the garrison, to the 
no small satisfaction of both parties ; who, notwithstanding their 
great stomach for fighting, had full as good an inclination to eat 
a quiet dinner as to exchange black eyes and bloody noses. 

Thus did this impregnable fortress once more return to the 
domination of their High Mightinesses ; Skytte and his garrison 
of twenty men were allowed to march out with the honors of 


war, and the victorious Peter, who was as generous as brave, 
permitted them to keep possession of all their arms and ammuni* 
tion — the same on inspection being found totally unfit for service, 
having long rusted in the magazine of the fortress, even before 
it was wrested by the Swedes from the windy Van Poffenburgh. 
But I must not omit to mention, that the governor was so well 
pleased with the service of his faithful squire Van Corlear, in 
the reduction of this great fortress, that he made him on the spot 
lord of a goodly domain in the vicinity of New- Amsterdam — 
which goes by the name of Corlear's Hook unto this very day. 

The unexampled liberality of Peter Stuyvesant towards the 
Swedes, occasioned great surprise in the city of New- Amsterdam 
— nay, certain factious individuals, who had been enlightened 
by political meetings in the days of William the Testy, but who 
had not dared to indulge their meddlesome habits under the eye 
of their present ruler, now, emboldened by his absence, gave 
vent to their censures in the street. Murmurs were heard in 
the very council-chamber of New- Amsterdam ; and there is no 
knowing whether they might not have broken out into downright 
speeches and invectives, had not Peter Stuyvesant privately sent 
home his walking-staff, to be laid as a mace on the table of the 
council-chamber, in the midst of his counsellors ; who, like wise 
men, took the hint, and for ever after held their peace. 





Like as a mighty alderman, when at a corporation feast the first 
spoonful of turtle-soup salutes his palate, feels his appetite but 
tenfold quickened, and redoubles his vigorous attacks upon the 
tureen ; while his projecting eyes roll greedily round, devouring 
every thing at table — so did the mettlesome Peter Stuyvesant feel 
that hunger for martial glory, which raged within his bowels, 
inflamed by the capture of Fort Casimir, and nothing could allay 
it but the conquest of all New-Sweden. No sooner, therefore, 
had he secured his conquest, than he stumped resolutely on. 
flushed with success, to gather fresh laurels at Fort Christina.* 

This was the grand Swedish post, established on a small river 
(or, as it is improperly termed, creek) of the same name ; and 
here that crafty governor Jan. Risingh lay grimly drawn up, like 
a gray-bearded spider in the citadel of his web. 

But before we hurry into the direful scenes which must attend 

* At present a flourishing town, called Christiana, or Christeen, about thirty- 
seven miles from Philadelphia, on the post-road to Baltimore. 


the meeting of two such potent chieftains, it is advisable to pause 
for a moment, and hold a kind of warlike council. Battles should 
not be rushed into precipitately by the historian and his readers, 
any more than by the general and his soldiers. The great com- 
manders of antiquity never engaged the enemy without previously 
preparing the minds of their followers by animating harangues ; 
spiriting them up to heroic deeds, assuring them of the protection 
of the gods, and inspiring them with a confidence in the prowess 
of their leaders. So the historian should awaken the attention 
and enlist the passions of his readers ; and having set them all on 
fire with the importance of his subject, he should put himself at 
their head, flourish his pen, and lead them on to the thickest of 
the fight. 

An illustrious example of this rule may be seen in that mirror 
of historians the immortal Thucydides. Having arrived at the 
breaking out of the Peloponnesian war, one of his commentators 
observes that " he sounds the charge in all the disposition and 
spirit of Homer. He catalogues the allies on both sides. He 
awakens our expectations, and fast engages our attention. All 
mankind are concerned in the important point now going to be 
decided. Endeavors are made to disclose futurity. Heaven 
itself is interested in the dispute. The earth totters, and nature 
seems to labor with the great event. This is his solemn, sublime 
manner of setting out. Thus he magnifies a war between two, 
as Rapin styles them, petty states ; and thus artfully he supports 
a little subject by treating it in a great and noble method." 

In like manner, having conducted my readers into the very 
teeth of peril — having followed the adventurous Peter and his 
band into foreign regions — surrounded by foes, and stunned by 
the horrid din of arms — at this important moment, while dark- 


ness and doubt hang o'er each coming chapter, I hold it meet to 
harangue them, and prepare them for the events that are to 

And here I would premise one great advantage which, as his- 
torian, I possess over my reader ; and this it is, that though I 
cannot save the life of my favorite hero, nor absolutely contradict 
the event of a battle (both which liberties, though often taken by 
the French writers of the present reign, I hold to be utterly un- 
worthy of a scrupulous historian), yet I can now and then make 
him bestow on his enemy a sturdy back stroke sufficient to fell a 
giant ; though, in honest truth, he may never have done any thing 
of the kind — or I can drive his antagonist clear round and round 
the field, as did Homer make that fine fellow Hector scamper like 
a poltroon round the walls of Troy ; for which, if ever they have 
encountered one another in the Elysian fields, I'll warrant the 
prince of poets has had to make the most humble apology. 

I am aware that many conscientious readers will be ready to 
cry out " foul play !" whenever I render a little assistance to my 
hero — but I consider it one of those privileges exercised by his- 
torians of all ages — and one which has never been disputed. An 
historian is, in fact, as it were, bound in honor to stand by his 
hero — the fame of the latter is intrusted to his hands, and it is 
his duty to do the best by it he can. Never was there a general, 
an admiral, or any other commander, who, in giving an account 
of any battle he had fought, did not sorely belabor the enemy ; 
and I have no doubt that, had my heroes written the history of 
their own achievements, they would have dealt much harder 
blows than any that I shall recount. Standing forth, therefore, 
as the guardian of their fame, it behooves me to do them the 
same justice they would have done themselves ; and if I happen 


to be a little hard upon the Swedes, I give free leave to any of 
their descendants, who may write a history of the State of Dela- 
ware, to take fair retaliation, and belabor Peter Stuyvesant as 
hard as they please. 

Therefore stand by for broken heads and bloody noses ! — My 
pen hath long itched for a battle — siege after siege have I carried 
on without blows or bloodshed ; but now I have at length got a 
chance, and I vow to Heaven and St. Nicholas, that, let the chroni- 
cles of the times say what they please, neither Sallust, Livy, 
Tacitus, Polybius, nor any other historian, did ever record a 
fiercer fight than that in which my valiant chieftains are now 
about to engage. 

And you, oh most excellent readers, whom, for your faithful 
adherence, I could cherish in the warmest corner of my heart — 
be not uneasy — trust the fate of our favorite Stuyvesant with me 
— for by the rood, come what may, I'll stick by Hardkoppig 
Piet to the last. I'll make him drive about these losels vile, as 
did the renowned Launcelot of the Lake a herd of recreant Cor- 
nish knights — and if he does fall, let me never draw my pen to 
fight another battle in behalf of a brave man, if I don't make 
these lubberly Swedes pay for it. 

~No sooner had Peter Stuyvesant arrived before Fort Christina 
than he proceeded without delay to intrench himself, and immedi- 
ately on running his first parallel, dispatched Antony Yan Corlear 
to summon the fortress to surrender. Van Corlear was received 
with all due formality, hoodwinked at the portal, and conducted 
through a pestiferous smell of salt fish and onions to the citadel, 
a substantial hut built of pine logs. His eyes were here uncov- 
ered, and he found himself in the august presence of Governor 
Risingh. This chieftain, as I have before noted, was a very 


giantly man ; and was clad in a coarse blue coat, strapped round 
the waist with a leathern belt, which caused the enormous skirts 
and pockets to set off with a very warlike sweep. His ponderous 
legs were cased in a pair of foxy-colored jack-boots, and he was 
straddling in the attitude of the Colossus of Rhodes, before a bit 
of broken looking-glass, shaving himself with a villanously dull 
razor. This afflicting operation caused him to make a series of 
horrible grimaces, which heightened exceedingly the grisly terrors 
of his visage. On Antony Van Corlear's being announced, the 
grim commander paused for a moment, in the midst of one of his 
most hard-favored contortions, and after eyeing him askance over 
the shoulder, with a kind of snarling grin on his countenance, 
resumed his labors at the glass. 

This iron harvest being reaped, he turned once more to the 
trumpeter, and demanded the purport of his errand. Antony 
Van Corlear delivered in a few words, being a kind of short- 
hand speaker, a long message from his excellency, recounting the 
whole history of the province, with a recapitulation of griev- 
ances, and enumeration of claims, and concluding with a per- 
emptory demand of instant surrender ; which done, he turned 
aside, took his nose between his thumb and finger, and blew a 
tremendous blast, not unlike the flourish of a trumpet of defiance 
— which it had doubtless learned from a long and intimate neigh- 
borhood with that melodious instrument. 

Governor Risingh heard him through, trumpet and all, but 
with infinite impatience ; leaning at times, as was his usual cus- 
tom, on the pommel of his sword, and at times twirling a huge 
steel watch-chain, or snapping his fingers. Van Corlear having 
finished, he bluntly replied, that Peter Stuyvesant and his sum- 
mons might go to the d 1, whither he hoped to send him and 


his crew of ragamuffins before supper-time. Then unsheathing 
his brass-hilted sword, and throwing away the scabbard — " 'Fore 
gad," quod he, " but I will not sheathe thee again until I make 
a scabbard of the smoke-dried leathern hide of this runagate 
Dutchman." Then having flung a fierce defiance in the teeth of 
his adversary, by the lips of his messenger, the latter was recon- 
ducted to the portal, with all the ceremonious civility due to the 
trumpeter, squire, and ambassador of so great a commander; 
and being again unblinded, was courteously dismissed with a 
tweak of the nose, to assist him in recollecting his message. 

No sooner did the gallant Peter receive this insolent reply 
than he let fly a tremendous volley of red-hot execrations, which 
would infallibly have battered down the fortifications, and blown 
up the powder magazine about the ears of the fiery Swede, had 
not the ramparts been remarkably strong, and the magazine 
bomb-proof. Perceiving that the works withstood this terrific 
blast, and that it was utterly impossible (as it really was in those 
unphilosophic days) to carry on a war with words, he ordered 
his merry men all to prepare for an immediate assault. But 
here a strange murmur broke out among his troops, beginning 
with the tribe of the Van Bummels, those valiant trenchermen 
of the Bronx, and spreading from man to man, accompanied with 
certain mutinous looks and discontented murmurs. For once in 
his life, and only for once, did the great Peter turn pale, for he 
verily thought his warriors were going to falter in this hour 
of perilous trial, and thus to tarnish for ever the fame of the 
province of New-Netherlands. 

But soon did he discover, to his great joy, that in this suspi- 
cion he deeply wronged this most undaunted army ; for the cause 
of this agitation and uneasiness simply was, that the hour of 


dinner was at hand, and it would have almost broken the hearts 
of these regular Dutch warriors to have broken in upon the 
invariable routine of their habits. Besides, it was an established 
rule among our ancestors always to fight upon a full stomach ; 
and to this may be doubtless attributed the circumstance that they 
came to be so renowned in arms. 

And now are the hearty men of the Manhattoes, and their no 
less hearty comrades, all lustily engaged under the trees, buffeting 
stoutly with the contents of their wallets, and taking such affec- 
tionate embraces of their canteens and pottles, as though they 
verily believed they were to be the last. And as I foresee we 
shall have hot work in a page or two, I advise my readers to do 
the same, for which purpose I will bring this chapter to a close ; 
giving them my word of honor, that no advantage shall be taken 
of this armistice to surprise, or in any wise molest, the honest 
Nederlanders, while at their vigorous repast 



" Now had the Dutchmen snatched a huge repast," and finding 
themselves wonderfully encouraged and animated thereby, pre- 
pared to take the field. Expectation, says the writer of the 
Stuyvesant manuscript — Expectation now stood on stilts. The 
world forgot to turn round, or rather stood still, that it might 
witness the affray ; like a round-bellied alderman, watching the 
combat of two chivalrous flies upon his jerkin. The eyes of all 
mankind, as usual in such cases, were turned upon Fort Christina. 
The sun, like a little man in a crowd at a puppet-show, scampered 
about the heavens, popping his head here and there, and endeav- 
oring to get a peep between the unmannerly clouds that obtruded 
themselves in his way. The historians filled their inkhorns — the 
poets went without their dinners, either that they might buy 
paper and goose-quills, or because they could not get any thing 
to eat — Antiquity scowled sulkily out of its grave, to see itself 
outdone — while even Posterity stood mute, gazing in gaping 
ecstasy of retrospection on the eventful field. 

The immortal deities, who whilom had seen service at the 


"affair" of Troy — now mounted their feather-bed clouds, and 
sailed over the plain, or mingled among the combatants in differ- 
ent disguises, all itching to have a finger in the pie. Jupiter sent 
off his thunderbolt to a noted coppersmith, to have it furbished 
up for the direful occasion. Venus vowed by her chastity to 
patronize the Swedes, and in semblance of a blear-eyed trull 
paraded the battlements of Fort Christina, accompanied by 
Diana, as a sergeant's widow, of cracked reputation. The noted 

i bully, Mars, stuck two horse-pistols into his belt, shouldered a 
rusty firelock, and gallantly swaggered at their elbow, as a 
drunken corporal — while Apollo trudged in their rear, as a 

• bandy-legged fifer, playing most villanously out of tune. 

On the other side, the ox-eyed Juno, who had gained a pair 
of black eyes over night, in one of her curtain lectures with old 
Jupiter, displayed her haughty beauties on a baggage-wagon — 
Minerva, as a brawny gin-suttler, tucked up her skirts, brandished 
her fists, and swore most heroically, in exceeding bad Dutch, 
(having but lately studied the language,) by way of keeping up 
the spirits of the soldiers ; while Vulcan halted as a club-footed 
blacksmith, lately promoted to be a captain of militia. All was 
silent awe, or bustling preparation : war reared his horrid front, 
gnashed loud his iron fangs, and shook his direful crest of bris- 
tling bayonets. 

And now the mighty chieftains marshaled out their hosts. 
Here stood stout Risingh, firm as a thousand rocks — incrusted 
with stockades, and intrenched to the chin in mud batteries. His 
valiant soldiery lined the breast-work in grim array, each having 
his mustachios fiercely greased, and his hair pomatumed back, 
and queued so stiffly, that he grinned above the ramparts like a 
grisly death's head. 


There came on the intrepid Peter — his brows knit, his teeth 
set, his fists clenched, almost breathing forth volumes of smoke, 
so fierce was the fire that raged within his bosom. His faithful 
squire Van Corlear trudged valiantly at his heels, with his trum- 
pet gorgeously bedecked with red and yellow ribands, the remem- 
brances of his fair mistresses at the Manhattoes. Then came 
waddling on the sturdy chivalry of the Hudson. There were the 
Van Wycks, and the Van Dycks, and the Ten Eycks — the Van 
Nesses, the Van Tassels, the Van Grolls ; the Van Ho3sens, the 
Van Giesons, and the Van Blarcoms — the Van Warts, the Van 
Winkles, the Van Dams ; the Van Pelts, the Van Rippers, and 
the Van Brunts. There were the Van Homes, the Van Hooks, 
the Van Bunschotens ; the Van Gelders, the Van Arsdales, and 
the Van Bummels ; the Vander Belts, the Vander Hoofs, the 
Vander Voorts, the Vander Lyns, the Vander Pools, and the 
Vander Spiegles — there came the Hoffman s, the Hooghlands, the 
Hoppers, the Cloppers, the Eyckmans, the Dyckmans, the Hoge- 
booms, the Rosebooms, the Oothouts, the Quackenbosses, the 
Roerbacks, the Garrebrantzes, the Bensons, the Brouwers, the 
Waldrons, the Onderdonks, the Varra Vangers, the Schermer- 
horns, the Stoutenburghs, the Brinkerhoffs, the Bontecous, the 
Knickerbockers, the Hockstrassers, the Ten Breecheses and the 
Tough Breecheses, with a host more of worthies, whose names 
are too crabbed to be written, or if they could be written, it would 
be impossible for man to utter — all fortified with a mighty dinner, 
and to use the words of a great Dutch poet, 

" Brimful of wrath and cabbage." 

For an instant the mighty Peter paused in the midst of his 
career, and mounting on a stump, addressed his troops in eloquent 


Low Dutch, exhorting them to fight like duyvels, and assuring 
them that if they conquered, they should get plenty of booty — if 
they fell, they should be allowed the satisfaction, while dying, of 
reflecting that it was in the service of their country — and after 
they were dead, of seeing their names inscribed in the temple of 
renown, and handed down, in company with all the other great 
men of the year, for the admiration of posterity. — Finally, he 
swore to them, on the word of a governor (and they knew him 
too well to doubt it for a moment), that if he caught any mother's 
son of them looking pale, or playing craven, he would curry his 
hide till he made him run out of it like a snake in spring time. — 
Then lugging out his trusty sabre, he brandished it three times 
over his head, ordered Van Corlear to sound a charge, and shout- 
ing the words " St. Nicholas and the Manhattoes !" courageously 
dashed forwards. His warlike followers, who had employed the 
interval in lighting their pipes, instantly stuck them into their 
mouths, gave a furious puff, and charged gallantly, under cover 
of the smoke. 

The Swedish garrison, ordered by the cunning Risingh not to 
fire until they could distinguish the whites of their assailants' 
eyes, stood in horrid silence on the covert-way, until the eager 
Dutchmen had ascended the glacis. Then did they pour into them 
such a tremendous volley, that the very hills quaked around, and 
were terrified even unto an incontinence of water, insomuch that 
certain springs burst forth from their sides, which continue to run 
unto the present day. Not a Dutchman but would have bitten 
the dust beneath that dreadful fire, had not the protecting Minerva 
kindly taken care that the Swedes should, one and all, observe 
their usual custom of shutting their eyes and turning away their 
heads at the moment of discharge. 


The Swedes followed up their fire by leaping the counter- 
scarp, and falling tooth and nail upon the foe with furious outcries. 
And now might be seen prodigies of valor, unmatched in history 
or song. Here was the sturdy Stoffel Brinkerhoff brandishing 
his quarter-staff, like the giant Blanderon his oak tree (for he 
scorned to carry any other weapon), and drumming a horrific 
tune upon the hard heads of the Swedish soldiery. There were the 
Van Kortlandts, posted at a distance, like the Locrian archers of 
yore, and plying it most potently with the long-bow, for which 
they were so justly renowned. On a rising knoll were gathered 
the valiant men of Sing-Sing, assisting marvelously in the fight, 
by chanting the great song of St. Nicholas ; but as to the Garde- 
niers of Hudson, they were absent on a marauding party, laying 
waste the neighboring watermelon patches. 

In a different part of the field were the Van Grolls of 
Anthony's Nose, struggling to get to the thickest of the fight, but 
horribly perplexed in a defile between two hills, by reason of the 
length of their noses. So also the Van Bunschotens of Nyack 
and Kakiat, so renowned for kicking with the left foot, were 
brought to a stand for want of wind, in consequence of the hearty 
dinner they had eaten, and would have been put to utter rout but 
for the arrival of a gallant corps of voltigeurs, composed of the 
Hoppers, who advanced nimbly to their assistance on one foot. 
Nor must I omit to mention the valiant achievements of Antony 
Van Corlear, who, for a good quarter of an hour, waged stubborn 
fight with a little pursy Swedish drummer; whose hide he 
drummed most magnificently, and whom he would infalliby have 
annihilated on the spot, but that he had come into the battle with 
no other weapon but his trumpet. 

But now the combat thickened. — On came the mighty Jacobus 


Varra Vanger and the fighting men of the Wallabout ; after them 
thundered the Van Pelts of Esopus, together with the Van Rip- 
pers and the Van Brunts, bearing down all before them — then the 
Suy Dams, and the Van Dams, pressing forward with many a 
blustering oath, at the head of the warriors of Hell-gate, clad in 
their thunder and lightning gaberdines ; and lastly, the standard- 
bearers and body-guards of Peter Stuyvesant, bearing the great 
beaver of the Manhattoes. 

And now commenced the horrid din, the desperate struggle, 
the maddening ferocity, the frantic desperation, the confusion and 
self-abandonment of war. Dutchman and Swede commingled, 
tugged, panted, and Mowed. The heavens were darkened with 
a tempest of missives. Bang! went the guns — whack! went 
the broad-swords — thump ! went the cudgels— crash ! went the 
musket-stocks — blows — kicks — cuffs — scratches — black eyes and 
bloody noses swelling the horrors of the scene ! Thick thwack, 
cut and hack, helter-skelter, higgledy-piggledy, hurly-burly, head 
over heels, rough and tumble ! — Dunder and blixum ! swore the 
Dutchmen — splitter and splutter ! cried the Swedes — Storm the 
works ! shouted Hardkoppig Peter — Fire the mine ! roared stout 
Risingh — Tanta-ra-ra-ra ! twanged the trumpet of Antony Van 
| Corlear — until all voice and sound became unintelligible — grunts 
of pain, yells of fury, and shouts of triumph mingling in one 
hideous clamor. The earth shook as if struck with a paralytic stroke 
— trees shrunk aghast, and withered at the sight — rocks burrowed 
in the ground like rabbits — and even Christina creek turned from 
its course, and ran up a hill in breathless terror ! 

Long hung the contest doubtful, for though a heavy shower 
of rain, sent by the " cloud-compelling Jove," in some measure 
cooled their ardor, as doth a bucket of water thrown on a group 


of fighting mastiffs, yet did they but pause for a moment, to re- 
turn with tenfold fury to the charge. Just at this juncture a vast 
and dense column of smoke was seen slowly rolling toward 
the scene of battle. The combatants paused for a moment, 
gazing in mute astonishment until the wind, dispelling the murky 
cloud, revealed the flaunting banner of Michael Paw the Patroon 
of Communipaw. That valiant chieftain came fearlessly on at 
the head of a phalanx of oyster-fed Pavonians and a corps de 
reserve of the Van Arsdales and Van Bummels, who had re- 
mained behind to digest the enormous dinner they had eaten. 
These now trudged manfully forward, smoking their pipes with 
outrageous vigor, so as to raise the awful cloud that has been 
mentioned ; but marching exceedingly slow, being short of leg, 
and of great rotundity in the belt. 

And now the deities who watched over the fortunes of the 
Nederlanders having unthinkingly left the field and stepped into 
a neighboring tavern to refresh themselves with a pot of beer, 
a direful catastrophe had well nigh ensued. Scarce had the 
myrmidons of Michael Paw attained the front of battle, when 
the Swedes, instructed by the cunning Risingh, leveled a shower 
of blows full at their tobacco-pipes. Astounded at this assault, 
and dismayed at the havoc of their pipes, these ponderous 
warriors gave way, and like a drove of frightened elephants 
broke through the ranks of their own army. The little Hoppers 
were borne down in the surge : the sacred banner emblazoned 
with the gigantic oyster of Communipaw was trampled in the 
dirt : on blundered and thundered the heavy-sterned fugitives, 
the Swedes pressing on their rear and applying their feet a parte 
poste of the Van Arsdales and the Van Bummels with a vigor 


that prodigiously accelerated their movements — nor did the re- 
nowned Michael Paw himself fail to receive divers grievous and 
dishonorable visitations of shoe leather. 

But what, oh Muse ! was the rage of Peter Stuyvesant, when 
from afar he saw his army giving way ! In the transports of his 
wrath he sent forth a roar, enough to shake the very hills. 
The men of the Manhattoes plucked up new courage at the 
sound; or rather, they rallied at the voice of their leader, of 
whom they stood more in awe than of all the Swedes in Chris- 
tendom. Without waiting for their aid, the daring Peter dashed 
sword in hand into the thickest of the foe. Then might be seen 
achievements worthy of the days of the giants. Wherever he 
went, the enemy shrank before him ; the Swedes fled to right 
and left, or were driven, like dogs, into their own ditch ; but, as 
he pushed forward singly with headlong courage, the, foe closed 
behind and hung upon his rear. One aimed a blow full at his 
heart ; but the protecting power which watches over the great 
and good turned aside the hostile blade and directed it to a side- 
pocket, where reposed an enormous iron tobacco-box, endowed, 
like the shield of Achilles, with supernatural powers, doubtless 
from bearing the portrait of the blessed St. Nicholas. Peter 
Stuyvesant turned like an angry bear upon the foe, and seizing 
him as he fled, by an immeasurable queue, " Ah whoreson cater- 
pillar," roared he, "here's what shall make worms' meat of thee !" 
So saying, he whirled his sword and dealt a blow that would have 
decapitated the varlet, but that the pitying steel struck short and 
shaved the queue forever from his crown. At this moment an ar- 
quebusier leveled his piece from a neighboring mound, with deadly 
aim ; but the watchful Minerva, who had just stopped to tie up 


her garter, seeing the peril of her favorite hero, sent old Boreas 
with his bellows, who, as the match descended to the pan, gave a 
blast that blew the priming from the touch-hole. 

Thus waged the fight, when the stout Risingh, surveying the 
field from the top of a little ravelin, perceived his troops banged, 
beaten, and kicked by the invincible Peter. Drawing his falchion 
and uttering a thousand anathemas, he strode down to the scene 
of combat with some such thundering strides as Jupiter is said by 
Hesiod to have taken, when he strode down the spheres to hurl 
his thunderbolts at the Titans. 

When the rival heroes came face to face, each made a prodi- 
gious start in the style of a veteran stage champion. Then did 
they regard each other for a moment with the bitter aspect of 
two furious ram-cats on the point of a clapper-clawing. Then 
did they throw themselves into one attitude, then into another, 
striking their swords on the ground first on the right side, then 
on the left — at last at it they went, with incredible ferocity. 
Words cannot tell the prodigies of strength and valor displayed 
in this direful encounter — an encounter compared to which the 
far-famed battles of Ajax with Hector, of iEneas with Turnus, 
Orlando with Rodomont, Guy of Warwick with Colbrand the 
Dane, or of that renowned Welsh knight, Sir Owen of the Moun- 
tains, with the giant Guylon, were all gentle sports and holyclay 
recreations. At length the valiant Peter, watching his opportu- 
nity, aimed a blow, enough to cleave his adversary to the very 
chine ; but Risingh, nimbly raising his sword, warded it off so 
narrowly, that glancing on one side, it shaved away a huge can- 
teen in which he carried his liquor ; thence pursuing its trenchant 
course, it severed off a deep coat pocket, stored with bread and 
cheese — which provant rolling among the armies, occasioned a 



fearful scrambling between the Swedes and Dutchmen, and made 
the general battle to wax ten times more furious than ever. 

Enraged to see his military stores laid waste, the stout 
Bisingh, collecting all his forces, aimed a mighty blow full at the 
hero's crest. In vain did his fierce little cocked hat oppose its 
course. The biting steel clove through the stubborn ram beaver, 
and would have cracked the crown of any one not endowed with 
supernatural hardness of head ; but the brittle weapon shivered 
in pieces on the skull of Hardkoppig Piet, shedding a thousand 
sparks, like beams of glory round his grizzly visage. 

The good Peter reeled with the blow, and turning up his eyes 
beheld a thousand suns, beside moons and stars, dancing about 
the firmament — at length, missing his footing, by reason of his 
wooden leg, down he came on his seat of honor with a crash which 
shook the surrounding hills, and might have wrecked his frame, 
had he not been received into a cushion softer than velvet, which 
Providence or Minerva, or St. Nicholas, or some kindly cow had 
benevolently prepared for his reception. 

The furious Kisingh, in despite of the maxim, cherished by 
all true knights, that " fair play is a jewel," hastened to take 
advantage of the hero's fall ; but, as he stooped to give a fatal 
blow, Peter Stuyvesant dealt him a thwack over the sconce 
with his wooden leg, which set a chime of bells ringing triple bob 
majors in his cerebellum. The bewildered Swede staggered with 
the blow, and the wary Peter seizing a pocket-pistol, which lay 
hard by, discharged it full at the head of the reeling Risingh. 
Let not my reader mistake ; it was not a murderous weapon loaded 
with powder and ball ; but a little sturdy stone pottle charged to 
the muzzle with a double dram of true Dutch courage, which the 
knowing Antony Van Corlear carried about him by way of re- 



plenishing his valor; and which had dropped from his wallet 
during his furious encounter with the drummer. The hideous 
weapon sang through the air, and true to its course as was the 
fragment of a rock discharged at Hector by bully Ajax, encoun- 
tered the head of the gigantic Swede with matchless violence. 

This heaven-directed blow decided the battle. The ponderous 
pericranium of General Jan Kisingh sank upon his breast ; his 
knees tottered under him ; a death-like torpor seized upon his 
frame, and he tumbled to the earth with such violence, that old 
Pluto started with affright, lest he should have broken through 
the roof of his infernal palace. 

His fall was the signal of defeat and victory — the Swedes 
gave way — the Dutch pressed forward ; the former took to their 
heels, the latter hotly pursued. — Some entered with them, pell- 
mell, through the sally-port — others stormed the bastion, and 
others scrambled over the curtain. Thus in a little while the for- 
tress of Fort Christina, which, like another Troy, had stood a 
siege of full ten hours, was carried by assault, without the loss of 
a single man on either side. Victory, in the likeness of a gigan- 
tic ox-fly, sat perched upon the cocked hat of the gallant Stuy- 
vesant, and it was declared, by all the writers whom he hired to 
write the history of his expedition, that on this memorable day 
he gained a sufficient quantity of glory to immortalize a dozen of 
the greatest heroes in Christendom ! 





Thanks to St. Nicholas, we have safely finished this tremendous 
battle : let us sit down, my worthy reader, and cool ourselves, for 
I am in a prodigious sweat and agitation — truly this fighting of 
battles is hot work ! and if your great commanders did but know 
what trouble they give their historians, they would not have the 
conscience to achieve so many horrible victories. But methinks 
I hear my reader complain, that throughout this boasted battle 
there is not the least slaughter, nor a single individual maimed, if 
we except the unhappy Swede, who was shorn of his queue by 
the trenchant blade of Peter Stuyvesant ; all which, he observes, 
is a great outrage on probability, and highly injurious to the inter- 
est of the narration. 

This is certainly an objection of no little moment, but it arises 
entirely from the obscurity enveloping the remote periods of time 
about which I have undertaken to write. Thus, though doubt- 
less, from the importance of the object, and the prowess of the 
parties concerned, there must have been terrible carnage, and 


prodigies of valor displayed before the walls of Christina, yet, 
notwithstanding that I have consulted every history, manuscript, 
and tradition, touching this memorable though long-forgotten bat- 
tle, I cannot find mention made of a single man killed or wounded 
in the whole affair. 

This is, without doubt, owing to the extreme modesty of our 
forefathers, who, unlike their descendants, were never prone to 
vaunt of their achievements ; but it is a virtue which places their 
historian in a most embarrassing predicament ; for, having pro- 
mised my readers a hideous and unparalleled battle, and having 
worked them up into a warlike and bloodthirsty state of mind ; 
to put them off without any havoc and slaughter would have been 
as bitter a disappointment as to summon a multitude of good peo- 
ple to attend an execution, and then cruelly balk them by a 

Had the fates only allowed me some half a score of dead men, 
I had been content ; for I would have made them such heroes as 
abounded in the olden time, but whose race is now unfortunately 
extinct; any one of whom, if we may believe those authentic 
writers, the poets, could drive great armies like sheep before him, 
and conquer and desolate whole cities by his single arm. 

But seeing that I had not a single life at my disposal, all that 
was left me was to make the most I could of my battle, by means 
of kicks, and cuffs, and bruises, and such like ignoble wounds. 
And here I cannot but compare my dilemma, in some sort, to 
that of the divine Milton, who, having arrayed with sublime 
preparation his immortal hosts against each other, is sadly put to 
it how to manage them, and how he shall make the end of his 
battle answer to the beginning ; inasmuch as, being mere spirits, 
he cannot deal a mortal blow, nor even give a flesh wound to any 


of his combatants. For my part, the greatest difficulty I found 
was, when I had once put my warriors in a passion, and let them 
loose into the midst of the enemy, to keep them from doing 
mischief. Many a time had I to restrain the sturdy Peter from 
cleaving a gigantic Swede to the very waistband, or spitting half 
a dozen little fellows on his sword, like so many sparrows. And 
when I had set some hundred of missives flying in the air, I did 
not dare to suffer one of them to reach the ground, lest it should 
have put an end to some unlucky Dutchman. 

The reader cannot conceive how mortifying it is to a writer 
thus in a manner to have his hands tied, and how many tempting 
opportunities I had to wink at, where I might have made as fine 
a death-blow as any recorded in history or song. 

From my own experience I begin to doubt most potently of 
the authenticity of many of Homer's stories. I verily believe, 
that when he had once launched one of his favorite heroes among 
a crowd of the enemy, he cut down many an honest fellow, 
without any authority for so doing, excepting that he presented a 
fair mark — and that often a poor fellow was sent to grim Pluto's 
domains, merely because he had a name that would give a sound- 
ing turn to a period. But I disclaim all such unprincipled liber- 
ties — let me but have truth and the law on my side, and no man 
would fight harder than myself — but since the various records I 
consulted did not warrant it, I had too much conscience to kill a 
single soldier. — By St. Nicholas, but it would have been a pretty 
piece of business ! My enemies, the critics, who I foresee will 
be ready enough to lay any crime they can discover at my door, 
might have charged me with murder outright — and I should have 
esteemed myself lucky to escape with no harsher verdict than 
manslaughter ! 


And now, gentle reader, that we are tranquilly sitting down 
here, smoking our pipes, permit me to indulge in a melancholy 
reflection which at this moment passes across my mind. — How 
vain, how fleeting, how uncertain are all those gaudy bubbles after 
which we are panting and toiling in this world of fair delusions ! 
The wealth which the miser has amassed with so many weary 
days, so many sleepless nights, a spendthrift heir may squander 
away in joyless prodigality ; — the noblest monuments which pride 
has ever reared to perpetuate a name, the hand of time will 
shortly tumble into ruins — and even the brightest laurels, gained 
by feats of arms, may wither, and be for ever blighted by the 
chilling neglect of mankind. — " How many illustrious heroes," 
says the good Boetius, " who were once the pride and glory of 
the age, hath the silence of historians buried in eternal oblivion !" 
And this it was that induced the Spartans, when they went to 
battle, solemnly to sacrifice to the Muses, supplicating that their 
achievements might be worthily recorded. Had not Homer 
tuned his lofty lyre, observes the elegant Cicero, the valor of 
Achilles had remained unsung. And such too, after all the toils 
and perils he had braved, after all the gallant actions he had 
achieved, such too had nearly been the fate of the chivalric 
Peter Stuyvesant, but that I fortunately stepped in and engraved 
his name on the indelible tablet of history, just as the caitiff 
Time was silently brushing it away forever ! 

The more I reflect, the more I am astonished at the important 
character of the historian. He is the sovereign censor, to decide 
upon the renown or infamy of his fellow-men. He is the patron 
of kings and conquerors, on whom it depends whether they shall 
live in after-ages, or be forgotten as were their ancestors before 
them. The tyrant may oppress while the object of his tyranny 


exists ; but the historian possesses superior might, for his power 
extends even beyond the grave. The shades of departed and 
long-forgotten heroes anxiously bend down from above, while 
he writes, watching each movement of his pen, whether it shall 
pass by their names with neglect, or inscribe them on the death- 
less pages of renown. Even the drop of ink which hangs trem- 
bling on his pen, which he may either dash upon the floor, ot 
waste in idle scrawlings — that very drop, which to him is not 
worth the twentieth part of a farthing, may be of incalculable 
value to some departed worthy — may elevate half a score, in one 
moment, to immortality, who would have given worlds, had they 
possessed them, to ensure the glorious meed. 

Let not my readers imagine, however, that I am indulging in 
vainglorious boastings, or am anxious to blazon forth the impor- 
tance of my tribe. On the contrary, I shrink when I reflect on 
the awful responsibility we historians assume — I shudder to think 
what direful commotions and calamities we occasion in the world 
— I swear to thee, honest reader, as I am a man, I weep at the 
very idea ! Why, let me ask, are so many illustrious men daily 
tearing themselves away from the embraces of their families — 
slighting the smiles of beauty — despising the allurements of for- 
tune, and exposing themselves to the miseries of war ? — Why are 
kings desolating empires, and depopulating whole countries ? In 
short, what induces all great men, of all ages and countries, to 
commit so many victories and misdeeds, and inflict so many mise- 
ries upon mankind and upon themselves, but the mere hope that 
some historian will kindly take them into notice, and admit them 
into a corner of his volume ? For, in short, the mighty object of 
all their toils, their hardships, and privations, is nothing but 
immortal fame — and what is immortal fame ? why, half a 


page of dirty paper ! alas ! alas ! how humiliating the idea — 

that the renown of so great a man as Peter Stuyvesant should 
depend upon the pen of so little a man as Diedrich Knicker- 
bocker ! 

And now, having refreshed ourselves after the fatigues and 
perils of the field, it behooves us to return once more to the scene 
of conflict, and inquire what were the results of this renowned 
conquest. The fortress of Christina being the fair metropolis, 
and in a manner the key to New- Sweden, its capture was speedily 
followed by the entire subjugation of the province. This was not 
a little promoted by the gallant and courteous deportment of the 
chivalric Peter. Though a man terrible in battle, yet in the hour 
of victory was he endued with a spirit generous, merciful, and 
humane. He vaunted not over his enemies, nor did he make 
defeat more galling by unmanly insults ; for like that mirror of 
knightly virtue, the renowned Paladin Orlando, he was more 
anxious to do great actions than to talk of them after they were 
done. He put no man to death ; ordered no houses to be burnt 
down ; permitted no ravages to be perpetrated on the property of 
the vanquished ; and even gave one of his bravest officers a severe 
admonishment with his walking-staff, for having been detected in 
the act of sacking a hen-roost. 

He moreover issued a proclamation, inviting the inhabitants 
to submit to the authority of their High Mightinesses; but 
declaring, with unexampled clemency, that whoever refused should 
be lodged at the public expense, in a goodly castle provided for 
the purpose, and have an armed retinue to wait on them in the 
bargain. In consequence of these beneficent terms, about thirty 
Swedes stepped manfully forward and took the oath of allegiance ; 
in reward for which they were graciously permitted to remain on 


the banks of the Delaware, where their descendants reside at this 
very day. I am told, however, by divers observant travelers, that 
they have never been able to get over the chap-fallen looks of 
their ancestors ; but that they still do strangely transmit from 
father to son manifest marks of the sound drubbing given them 
by the sturdy Amsterdammers. 

The whole country of New-Sweden, having thus yielded to 
the arms of the triumphant Peter, was reduced to a colony 
called South River, and placed under the superintendence of a 
lieutenant-governor ; subject to the control of the supreme gov- 
ernment of New- Amsterdam. This great dignitary was called 
Mynheer William Beekman, or rather Beck-man, who derived his 
surname, as did Ovidius Naso of yore, from the lordly dimen- 
sions of his nose, which projected from the centre of his counte- 
nance, like the beak of a parrot. He was the great progenitor 
of the tribe of the Beekmans, one of the most ancient and honora- 
ble families of the province ; the members of which do gratefully 
commemorate the origin of their dignity ; not as your noble fami- 
lies in England would do, by having a glowing proboscis embla- 
zoned in their escutcheon ; but by one and all wearing a right 
goodly nose, stuck in the very middle of their faces. 

Thus was this perilous enterprise gloriously terminated, with 
the loss of only two men, — Wolfert Van Home, a tall spare man, 
who was knocked overboard by the boom of a sloop in a flaw of 
wind ; and fat Brom Van Bummel, who was suddenly carried off 
by an indigestion ; both, however, were immortalized, as having 
bravely fallen in the service of their country. True it is, Peter 
Stuyvesant had one of his limbs terribly fractured in the act of 
storming the fortress ; but as it was fortunately his wooden leg, 
the wound was promptly and effectually healed. 


And now nothing remains to this branch of my history but to 
mention that this immaculate hero, and his victorious army, 
returned joyously to the Manhattoes ; where they made a solemn 
and triumphant entry, bearing with them the conquered Bisingh, 
and the remnant of his battered crew, who had refused allegiance ; 
for it appears that the gigantic Swede had only fallen into a swoon, 
at the end of the battle, from which he was speedily restored by 
a wholesome tweak of the nose. 

These captive heroes were lodged, according to the promise 
of the governor, at the public expense, in a fair and spacious 
castle ; being the prison of state, of which Stoffel Brinkerhoff, 
the immortal conqueror of Oyster Bay, was appointed governor ; 
and which has ever since remained in the possession of his 

It was a pleasant and goodly sight to witness the joy of the 
people of New-Amsterdam, at beholding their warriors once 
more return from this war in the wilderness. The old women 
thronged round Antony Van Corlear, who gave the whole 
history of the campaign with matchless accuracy ; saving that 
he took the credit of fighting the whole battle himself, and 
especially of vanquishing the stout Risingh ; which he considered 
himself as clearly entitled to, seeing that it was effected by his 
own stone pottle. 

The schoolmasters throughout the town gave holiday to their 
little urchins, — who followed in droves after the drums, with 
paper caps on their heads, and sticks in their breeches, thus 
taking the first lesson in the art of war. As to the sturdy 

* This castle, though very much altered and modernized, is still in being, 
and stands at the corner of Pearl-street, facing Coentie's slip. 


rabble, they thronged at the heels of Peter Stuyvesant wher- 
ever he went, waving their greasy hats in the air, and shouting 
" Hardkoppig Piet for ever !" 

It was indeed a day of roaring rout and jubilee. A huge 
dinner was prepared at the Stadthouse in honor of the con- 
querors, where were assembled in one glorious constellation the 
great and little luminaries of New- Amsterdam. There were 
the lordly Schout and his obsequious deputy — the burgomasters 
with their officious schepens at their elbows — the subaltern 
officers at the elbows of the schepens, and so on down to the 
lowest hanger-on of police ; every tag having his rag at his side, 
to finish his pipe, drink off his heel-taps, and laugh at his flights 
of immortal dullness. In short — for a city feast is a city feast 
all the world over, and has been a city feast ever since the 
creation — the dinner went off much the same as do our great 
corporation junketings and fourth of July banquets. Loads of 
fish, flesh, and fowl were devoured, oceans of liquor drunk, 
thousands of pipes smoked, and many a dull joke honored with 
much obstreperous fat-sided laughter. 

I must not omit to mention, that to this far-famed victory 
Peter Stuyvesant was indebted for another of his many titles 
— for so hugely delighted were the honest burghers with his 
achievements, that they unanimously honored him with the name 
of Pieter de Groodt, that is to say Peter the Great ; or, as it 
was translated into English by the people of New- Amsterdam, 
for the benefit of their New England visitors, Piet de pig — an 
appellation which he maintained even unto the day of his death. 





The history of the reign of Peter Stuyvesant furnishes an 
edifying picture of the cares and vexations inseparable from 
sovereignty, and a solemn warning to all who are ambitious of 
attaining the seat of honor. Though returning in triumph and 
crowned with victory, his exultation was checked on observing 
the abuses which had sprung up in New- Amsterdam during his 
short absence. His walking-stafF, which he had sent home to 
act as his vicegerent, had, it is true, kept his council-chamber in 
order ; the counsellors eyeing it with awe, as it lay in grim 


repose upon the table, and smoking their pipes in silence ; but 
its control extended not out of doors. 

The populace unfortunately had had too much their own way 
under the slack though fitful reign of William the Testy ; and 
though upon the accession of Peter Stuyvesant they had felt, 
with the instinctive perception which mobs as well as cattle 
possess, that the reins of government had passed into strongei 
hands, yet could they not help fretting and chafing and champing 
upon the bit, in restive silence. 

Scarcely, therefore, had he departed on his expedition against 
the Swedes, than the old factions of William Kieft's reign had 
again thrust their heads above water. Pot-house meetings were 
again held to " discuss the state of the nation," where cobblers, 
tinkers, and tailors, the self-dubbed " friends of the people," once 
more felt themselves inspired with the gift of legislation, and un- 
dertook to lecture on every movement of government. 

Now, as Peter Stuyvesant had a singular inclination to govern 
the province by his individual will, his first move, on his return, was 
to put a stop to this gratuitous legislation. Accordingly, one eve- 
ning, when an inspired cobbler was holding forth to an assemblage 
of the kind, the intrepid Peter suddenly made his appearance, 
with his ominous walking-staff in his hand, and a countenance 
sufficient to petrify a mill-stone. The whole meeting was thrown 
into confusion — the orator stood aghast, with open mouth and 
trembling knees, while " horror ! tyranny ! liberty ! rights ! taxes ! 
death ! destruction !" and a host of other patriotic phrases were 
bolted forth before he had time to close his lips. Peter took no 
notice of the skulking throng, but strode up to the brawling bully- 
ruffian, and pulling out a huge silver watch, which might have 
served in times of yore as a town-clock, and which is still retained 


by his descendants as a family curiosity, requested the orator to 
mend it, and set it going. The orator humbly confessed it was 
utterly out of his power, as he was unacquainted with the nature 
of its construction. " Nay, but," said Peter, " try your ingenuity, 
man : you see all the springs and wheels, and how easily the 
clumsiest hand may stop it, and pull it to pieces ; and why should 
it not be equally easy to regulate as to stop it ?" The orator de- 
clared that his trade was wholly different — that he was a poor 
cobbler, and had never meddled with a watch in his life — that 
there were men skilled in the art, whose business it was to attend 
to those matters ; but for his part, he should only mar the work- 
manship and put the whole in confusion " Why, harkee, mas- 
ter of mine," cried Peter, turning suddenly upon him, with a 
countenance that almost petrified the patcher of shoes into a per- 
fect lapstone — " dost thou pretend to meddle with the movements 
of government — to regulate, and correct, and patch, and cobble a 
complicated machine, the principles of which are above thy com- 
prehension, and its simplest operations too subtle for thy under- 
standing, when thou canst not correct a trifling error in a common 
piece of mechanism, the whole mystery of which is open to thy 
inspection ? — Hence with thee to the leather and stone, which are 
emblems of thy head ; cobble thy shoes, and confine thyself to the 
vocation for which Heaven has fitted thee — but," elevating his 
voice until it made the welkin ring, " if ever I catch thee, or any 
of thy tribe, meddling again with affairs of government, by St. 
Nicholas, but Til have every mother's bastard of ye fla/d alive, 
and your hides stretched for drum-heads, that ye may thenceforth 
make a noise to some purpose !" 

This threat, and the tremendous voice in which it was uttered, 
caused the whole multitude to quake with fear. The hair of the 


orator rose on his head like his own swine's bristles, and not a 
knight of the thimble present but his heart died within him, and 
he felt as though he could have verily escaped through the eye 
of a needle. The assembly dispersed in silent consternation ; the 
pseudo statesmen who had hitherto undertaken to regulate public 
affairs, were now fain to stay at home, hold their tongues, and 
take care of their families ; and party feuds died away to such a 
degree, that many thriving keepers of taverns and dram-shops 
were utterly ruined for want of business. But though this mea- 
sure produced the desired effect in putting an extinguisher on the 
new lights just brightening up : yet did it tend to injure the popu- 
larity of the Great Peter with the thinking part of the community : 
that is to say, that part which think for others instead of for them- 
selves ; or, in other words, who attend to every body's business but 
their own. These accused the old governor of being highly aris- 
tocratical, and in truth there seems to have been some ground for 
such an accusation ; for he carried himself with a lofty soldier- 
like air, and was somewhat particular in his dress, appearing, 
when not in uniform, in rich apparel of the antique flaundrish 
cut, and was especially noted for having his sound leg (which was 
a very comely one) always arrayed in a red stocking and high- 
heeled shoe. 

Justice he often dispensed in the primitive patriarchal way, 
seated on the " stoep " before his door, under the shade of a great 
button-wood tree ; but all visits of form and state were received 
with something of court ceremony in the best parlor; where 
Antony the Trumpeter officiated as high chamberlain. On public 
occasions he appeared with great pomp of equipage, and always 
rode to church in a yellow wagon with naming red wheels. 

These symptoms of state and ceremony, as we have hinted, 


were much caviled at by the thinking (and talking) part of the 
community. They had been accustomed to find easy access to 
their former governors, and in particular had lived on terms of 
extreme intimacy with William the Testy, and they accused Peter 
Stuyvesant of assuming too much dignity and reserve, and of 
wrapping himself in mystery. Others, however, have pretended 
to discover in all this a shrewd policy on the part of the old gov- 
ernor. It is certainly of the first importance, say they, that a 
country should be governed by wise men : but then it is almost 
equally important that the people should think them wise 5 for 
this belief alone can produce willing subordination. To keep up, 
however, this desirable confidence in rulers, the people should be 
allowed to see as little of them as possible. It is the mystery 
which envelopes great men, that gives them half their greatness. 
There is a kind of superstitious reverence for office which leads 
us to exaggerate the merits of the occupant ; and to suppose that 
he must be wiser than common men. He, however, who gains 
access to cabinets, soon finds out by what foolishness the world is 
governed. He finds that there is quackery in legislation as in 
every thing else ; that rulers have their whims and errors as well 
as other men, and are not so wonderfully superior as he had ima- 
gined, since even he may occasionally confute them in argument. 
Thus awe subsides into confidence, confidence inspires fami- 
liarity, and familiarity produces contempt. Such was the case, 
say they, with William the Testy. By making himself too easy 
of access he enabled every scrub-politician to measure wits with 
him, and to find out the true dimensions not only of his person 
but of his mind : and thus it was that, by being familiarly scan- 
ned, he was discovered to be a very little man. Peter Stuyve- 
sant, on the contrary, say they, by conducting himself with dignity 



and loftiness, was looked up to with great reverence. As he never 
gave his reasons for any thing he did, the public gave him credit 
for very profound ones ; every movement, however intrinsically 
unimportant, was a matter of speculation ; and his very red 
stockings excited some respect, as being different from the stock- 
ings of other men. 

Another charge against Peter Stuyvesant was that he had a 
great leaning in favor of the patricians : and indeed in his time 
rose many of those mighty Dutch families which have taken such 
vigorous root, and branched out so luxuriantly in our State. 
Some, to be sure, were of earlier date, such as the Van Kortlandts, 
the Van Zandts, the Ten Broecks, the Harden Broecks, and others 
of Pavonian renown, who gloried in the title of " Discoverers," from 
having been engaged in the nautical expedition from Communi- 
paw, in which they so heroically braved the terrors of Hell-gate 
and Buttermilk-channel, and discovered a site for New- Amsterdam. 

Others claimed to themselves the appellation of Conquerors, 
from their gallant achievements in New-Sweden and their victory 
over the Yankees at Oyster Bay. Such was that list of warlike 
worthies heretofore enumerated, beginning with the Van Wycks, 
the Van Dycks, and the Ten Eycks, and extending to the Rut- 
gers, the Bensons, the Brinkerhoffs, and the Schermerhorns ; a 
roll equal to the Doomsday Book of William the Conqueror, 
and establishing the heroic origin of many an ancient aristocratical 
Dutch family. These, after all, are the only legitimate nobility 
and lords of the soil ; these are the real " beavers of the Man- 
hattoes ;" and much does it grieve me in modern days to see them 
elbowed aside by foreign invaders, and more especially by those 
ingenious people, " the Sons of the Pilgrims ;" who out-bargain 
them in the market, out-speculate them on the exchange, out-top 


them in fortune, and run up mushroom palaces so high, that 
the tallest Dutch family mansion has not wind enough left for its 

In the proud days of Peter Stuyvesant, however, the good 
old Dutch aristocracy loomed out in all its grandeur. The burly 
burgher, in round-crowned flaundrish hat with brim of vast cir- 
cumference ; in portly gabardine and bulbous multiplicity of 
breeches, sat on his "stoep" and smoked his pipe in lordly 
silence, nor did it ever enter his brain that the active, restless 
Yankee, whom he saw through his half-shut eyes worrying about 
in dog-day heat, ever intent on the main chance, was one day to 
usurp control over these goodly Dutch domains. Already, how- 
ever, the races regarded each other with disparaging eye. The 
Yankees sneeringly spoke of the round-crowned burghers of the 
Manhattoes as the " Copper-heads ;" while the latter, glorying in 
their own nether rotundity, and observing the slack galligaskins 
of their rivals, napping like an empty sail against the mast, 
retorted upon them with the opprobrious appellation of " Platter- 






From what I have recounted in the foregoing chapter I would 
not have it imagined that the great Peter was a tyrannical 
potentate, ruling with a rod of iron. On the contrary, where 
the dignity of office permitted he abounded in generosity and 
condescension. If he refused the brawling multitude the right 
of misrule, he at least endeavored to rule them in righteousness. 
To spread abundance in the land, he obliged the bakers to give 
thirteen loaves to the dozen — a golden rule which remains a 
monument of his beneficence. So far from indulging in unrea- 
sonable austerity, he delighted to see the poor and the laboring 
man rejoice ; and for this purpose he was a great promoter of 
holydays. Under his reign there was a great cracking of eggs 
at Paas or Easter ; "Whitsuntide or Pinxter also flourished in all 
its bloom ; and never were stockings better filled on the eve of 
the blessed St. Nicholas. 


New-year's day, however, was his favorite festival, and was 
ushered in by the ringing of bells and firing of guns. Qn that 
genial day the fountains of hospitality were broken up, and the 
whole community was deluged with cherry-brandy, true Hollands, 
and mulled cider ; every house was a temple to the jolly god ; 
and many a provident vagabond got drunk out of pure economy, 
taking in liquor enough gratis to serve him half a year after- 

The great assemblage, however, was at the governor's house, 
whither repaired all the burghers of New- Amsterdam with their 
wives and daughters, pranked out in their best attire. On this 
occasion the good Peter was devoutly observant of the pious 
Dutch rite of kissing the women-kind for a happy new-year ; and 
it is traditional that Antony the Trumpeter, who acted as gentle- 
man usher, took toll of all who were young and handsome, as 
they passed through the antechamber. This venerable custom, 
thus happily introduced, was followed with such zeal by high and 
low, that on new-year's day, during the reign of Peter Stuyve- 
sant, New- Amsterdam was the most thoroughly be-kissed com- 
munity in all Christendom. 

Another great measure of Peter Stuyvesant for public im- 
provement was the distribution of fiddles throughout the land. 
These were placed in the hands of veteran negroes, who were 
dispatched as missionaries to every part of the province. This 
measure, it is said, was first suggested by Antony the Trumpeter ; 
and the effect was marvelous. Instead of those " indignation 
meetings " set on foot in the time of William the Testy, where 
men met together to rail at public abuses, groan over the evils of 
the times, and make each other miserable, there were joyous 
gatherings of the two sexes to dance and make merry. Now 


were instituted " quilting bees," and " husking bees," and other 
rural assemblages, where, under the inspiring influence of the 
fiddle, toil was enlivened by gayety and followed up by the dance. 
" Raising bees " also were frequent, where houses sprang up at 
the wagging of the fiddle-stick, as the walls of Thebes sprang up 
of yore to the sound of the lyre of Amphion. 

Jolly autumn, which pours its treasures over hill and dale, 
was in those days a season for the lifting of the heel as well as 
the heart ; labor came dancing in the train of abundance, and 
frolic prevailed throughout the land. Happy days ! when the 
yeomanry of the Nieuw-Nederlands were merry rather than 
wise ; and when the notes of the fiddle, those harbingers of good 
humor and good will, resounded at the close of the day from 
every hamlet along the Hudson ! 

Nor was it in rural communities alone that Peter Stuyvesant 
introduced his favorite engine of civilization. Under his rule the 
fiddle acquired that potent sway in New- Amsterdam which it 
has ever since retained. Weekly assemblages were held, not in 
heated ball-rooms at midnight hours, but on Saturday afternoons, 
by the golden light of the sun, on the green lawn of the battery ; 
with Antony the Trumpeter for master of ceremonies. Here 
would the good Peter take his seat under the spreading trees, 
among the old burghers and their wives, and watch the mazes 
of the dance. Here would he smoke his pipe, crack his joke, 
and forget the rugged toils of war, in the sweet oblivious 
festivities of peace, giving a nod of approbation to those of the 
young men who shuffled and kicked most vigorously ; and, now 
and then a hearty smack, in all honesty of soul, to the buxom 
lass who held out longest, and tired down every competitor, 
infallible proof of her being the best dancer. 


Once it is true the harmony of these meetings was in danger 
of interruption. A young belle just returned from a visit to 
Holland, who of course led the fashions, made her appearance 
in not more than half a dozen petticoats, and these of alarming 
shortness. A whisper and a flutter ran through the assembly. 
The young men of course were lost in admiration, but the old 
ladies were shocked in the extreme, especially those who had 
marriageable daughters ; the young ladies blushed and felt 
excessively for the " poor thing," and even the governor himself 
appeared to be in some kind of perturbation. 

To complete the confusion of the good folks she undertook, 
in the course of a jig, to describe some figures in algebra taught 
her by a dancing-master at Rotterdam. Unfortunately, at the 
highest flourish of her feet some vagabond zephyr obtruded his 
services, and a display of the graces took place, at which all the 
ladies present were thrown into great consternation ; several 
grave country members were not a little moved, and the good 
Peter Stuyvesant himself was grievously scandalized. 

The shortness of the female dresses, which had continued in 
fashion ever since the days of William Kieft, had long offended 
his eye ; and though extremely averse to meddling with the pet- 
ticoats of the ladies, yet he immediately recommended that every 
one should be furnished with a flounce to the bottom. He like- 
wise ordered that the ladies, and indeed the gentlemen, should use 
no other step in dancing than " shuffle and turn," and " double 
trouble ;" and forbade, under pain of his high displeasure, any 
young lady thenceforth to attempt what was termed " exhibiting 
the graces." 

These were the only restrictions he ever imposed upon the 
sex, and these were considered by them as tyrannical oppressions, 


and resisted with that becoming spirit manifested by the gentle 
sex whenever their privileges are invaded. In fact, Antony Van 
Corlear, who, as has been shown, was a sagacious man, experi- 
enced in the ways of women, took a private occasion to intimate 
to the governor that a conspiracy was forming among the young 
vrouws of New- Amsterdam ; and that, if the matter were pushed 
any further, there was danger of their leaving off petticoats alto- 
gether ; whereupon the good Peter shrugged his shoulders, drop- 
ped the subject, and ever after suffered the women to wear their 
petticoats and cut their capers as high as they pleased; a privi- 
lege which they have jealously maintained in the Manhattoes unto 
the present day. 




In the last two chapters I have regaled the reader with a delecta- 
ble picture of the good Peter and his metropolis during an inter- 
val of peace. It was, however, but a bit of blue sky in a stormy 
day ; the clouds are again gathering up from all points of the 
compass, and, if I am not mistaken in my forebodings, we shall 
have rattling weather in the ensuing chapters. 

It is with some communities as it is with certain meddlesome 
individuals ; they have a wonderful facility at getting into scrapes, 
and I have always remarked that those are most prone to get in 
who have the least talent at getting out again. This is doubtless 
owing to the excessive valor of those states ; for I have likewise 
noticed that this rampant quality is always most frothy and fussy 
where most confined ; which accounts for its vaporing so ama- 
zingly in little states, little men and ugly little women more espe- 

Such is the case with this little province of the Nieuw-Ned- 
erlands ; which, by its exceeding valor, has already drawn upon 
itself a host of enemies ; has had fighting enough to satisfy a pro- 



vince twice its size ; and is in a fair way of becoming an exceed- 
ingly forlorn, well-belabored, and woe-begone little province. All 
which was providentially ordered to give interest and sublimity 
to this pathetic history. 

The first interruption to the halcyon quiet of Peter Stuyve- 
sant was caused by hostile intelligence from the old belligerent 
nest of Rensellaerstein. Killian, the lordly patroon of Rensel- 
laerwick, was again in the field, at the head of his myrmidons of 
the Helderberg ; seeking to annex the whole of the Kaats-kill 
mountains to his domains. The Indian tribes of these mountains 
had likewise taken up the hatchet and menaced the venerable 
Dutch settlement of Esopus. 

Fain would I entertain the reader with the triumphant cam- 
paign of Peter Stuyvesant in the haunted regions of those moun- 
tains ; but that I hold all Indian conflicts to be mere barbaric 
brawls, unworthy of the pen which has recorded the classic war 
of Fort Christina ; and as to these Helderberg commotions, they 
are among the flatulencies which from time to time afflict the 
bowels of this ancient province, as with a wind-colic, and which I 
deem it seemly and decent to pass over in silence. 

The next storm of trouble was from the south. Scarcely had 
the worthy Mynheer Beekman got warm in the seat of authority 
on the South River, than enemies began to spring up all around 
him. Hard by was a formidable race of savages inhabiting the 
gentle region watered by the Susquehanna, of whom the follow- 
ing mention is made by Master Hariot in his excellent history : 

" The Susquesahanocks are a giantly people, strange in pro- 
portion, behavior and attire — their voice sounding from them as 
out of a cave. Their tobacco-pipes were three quarters of a yard 
long ; carved at the great end with a bird, beare, or other device, 


sufficient to beat out the brains of a horse. The calfe of one of 
their legges measured three quarters of a yard about ; the rest of 
the limbs proportionable."* 

These gigantic savages and smokers caused no little disquiet 
in the mind of Mynheer Beekman, threatening to cause a famine 
of tobacco in the land ; but his most formidable enemy was the 
roaring, roystering English colony of Maryland, or as it was 
anciently written Merryland ; so called because the inhabitants, 
not having the fear of the Lord before their eyes, were prone to 
make merry and get fuddled with mint-julep and apple-toddy. 
They were, moreover, great horse-racers and cock-fighters; 
mighty wrestlers and jumpers, and enormous consumers of hoe- 
cake and bacon. They lay claim to be the first inventors of those 
recondite beverages, cock-tail, stone-fence, and sherry cobbler, and 
to have discovered the gastronomical merits of terrapins, soft crabs, 
and canvas-back ducks. 

This rantipole colony, founded by Lord Baltimore, a British 
nobleman, was managed by his agent, a swaggering Englishman, 
commonly called Fendall ; that is to say, " offend all," a name 
given him for his bullying propensities. These were seen in a 
message to Mynheer Beekman, threatening him, unless he imme- 
diately swore allegiance to Lord Baltimore as the rightful lord 
of the soil, to come at the head of the roaring boys of Merryland 
and the giants of the Susquehanna, and sweep him and his Neder- 
landers out of the country. 

The trusty sword of Peter Stuyvesant almost leaped from its 
scabbard, when he received missives from Mynheer Beekman, 
informing him of the swaggering menaces of the bully Fendall ; 

* Hariot's Journal, Purch. Pilgrims. 


and as to the giantly warriors of the Susquehanna, nothing would 
have more delighted him than a bout, hand to hand, with half a score 
of them ; having never encountered a giant in the whole course 
of his campaigns, unless we may consider the stout Risingh as 
such — and he was but a little one. 

Nothing prevented his marching instantly to the South River 
and enacting scenes still more glorious than those of Fort Chris- 
tina, but the necessity of first putting a stop to the increasing 
aggressions and inroads of the Yankees, so as not to leave an 
enemy in his rear ; but he wrote to Mynheer Beekman to keep 
up a bold front and stout heart, promising, as soon as he had set- 
tled affairs in the east, that he would hasten to the south with his 
burly warriors of the Hudson, to lower the crests of the giants, 
and mar the merriment of the Merrylanders. 



To explain the apparently sudden movement of Peter Stuyvesant 
against the crafty men of the East Country, I would observe that, 
during his campaigns on the South liiver, and in the enchanted 
regions of the Catskill Mountains, the twelve tribes of the East 
had been more than usually active in prosecuting their subtle 
scheme for the subjugation of the Nieuw-*Nederlands. 

Independent of the incessant maraudings among hen-roosts 
and squattings along the border, invading armies would penetrate, 
from time to time, into the very heart of the country. As their 
prototypes of yore went forth into the land of Canaan, with their 
wives and their children, their men-servants and their maid-ser- 
vants, their flocks and herds, to settle themselves down in the land 
and possess it ; so these chosen people of modern days would pro- 
gress through the country in patriarchal style ; conducting carts 
and wagons laden with household furniture, with women and chil- 
dren piled on top, and pots and kettles dangling beneath. At the 
tail of these vehicles would stalk a crew of long-limbed, lank- 
sided varlets, with axes on their shoulders and packs on their 
backs, resolutely bent upon " locating" themselves, as they termed 


it, and improving the country. These were the most dangerous 
kind of invaders. It is true they were guilty of no overt acts of 
hostility ; but it was notorious that, wherever they got a footing, 
the honest Dutchmen gradually disappeared, retiring slowly as do 
the Indians before the white men ; being in some way or other 
talked and chaffered, and bargained and swapped, and, in plain 
English, elbowed out of all those rich bottoms and fertile nooks 
in which our Dutch yeomanry are prone to nestle themselves. 

Peter Stuyvesant was at length roused to this kind of war in 
disguise, by which the Yankees were craftily aiming to subjugate 
his dominions. He was a man easily taken in, it is true, as all 
great-hearted men are apt to be ; but if he once found it out, his 
wrath was terrible. He now threw diplomacy to the dogs ; de- 
termined to appear no more by ambassadors, but to repair in 
person to the great council of the Amphyctions, bearing the sword 
in one hand and the olive branch in the other ; and giving them 
their choice of sincere and honest peace, or open and iron war. 

His privy councillors were astonished and dismayed when he 
announced his determination. For once they ventured to remon- 
strate, setting forth the rashness of venturing his sacred person 
in the midst of a strange and barbarous people. They might as 
well have tried to turn a rusty weather-cock with a broken-winded 
bellows. In the fiery heart of the iron-headed Peter sat en- 
throned the five kinds of courage described by Aristotle, and had 
the philosopher enumerated five hundred more, I verily believe 
he would have possessed them all. As to that better part of 
valor called discretion, it was too cold-blooded a virtue for his 
tropical temperament. 

Summoning, therefore, to his presence his trusty follower, 
Antony Van Corlear, he commanded him to hold himself in readi- 


ness to accompany him the following morning on this his hazard- 
ous enterprise. Now Antony the Trumpeter was by this time a 
little stricken in years, yet by dint of keeping up a good heart, 
and having never known care or sorrow (having never been mar- 
ried), he was still a hearty, jocund, rubicund, gamesome wag, and 
of great capacity in the doublet. This last was ascribed to his 
living a jolly life on those domains at the Hook, which Peter 
Stuyvesant had granted to him for his gallantry at Fort Casimir. 

Be this as it may, there was nothing that more delighted An- 
tony than this command of the great Peter, for he could have 
followed the stout-hearted old governor to the world's end, with 
love and loyalty — and he moreover still remembered the frolick- 
ing, and dancing, and bundling, and other disports of the east 
country, and entertained dainty recollection of numerous kind 
and buxom lasses, whom he longed exceedingly again to en- 

Thus then did this mirror of hardihood set forth, with no 
other attendant but his trumpeter, upon one of the most perilous 
enterprises ever recorded in the annals of knight-errantry. — For 
a single warrior to venture openly among a whole nation of foes 
— but, above all, for a plain downright Dutchman to think of ne- 
gotiating with the whole council of New-England ! — never was 
there known a more desperate undertaking ! — Ever since I have 
entered upon the chronicles of this peerless but hitherto uncele- 
brated chieftain, has he kept me in a state of incessant action and 
anxiety with the toils and dangers he is constantly encountering — 
Oh ! for a chapter of the tranquil reign of Wouter Van Twiller, 
that I might repose on it as on a feather bed ! 

Is it not enough, Peter Stuyvesant, that I have once already 
rescued thee from the machinations of these terrible Amphiety- 


cms, by bringing the powers of witchcraft to thine aid ? — Is it not 
enough, that I have followed thee undaunted, like a guardian 
spirit, into the midst of the horrid battle of Fort Christina ? — 
That I have been put incessantly to my trumps to keep thee safe 
and sound — now warding off with my single pen the shower of 
dastard blows that fell upon thy rear — now narrowly shielding 
thee from a deadly thrust, by a mere tobacco-box — now casing 
thy dauntless skull with adamant, when even thy stubborn ram 
beaver failed to resist the sword of the stout Eisingh — and now, 
not merely bringing thee off alive, but triumphant, from the 
clutches of the gigantic Swede, by the desperate means of a pal- 
try stone pottle ? — Is not all this enough, but must thou still be 
plunging into new difficulties, and hazarding in headlong enter- 
prises thyself, thy trumpeter, and thy historian ? 

And now the ruddy-faced Aurora, like a buxom chamber- 
maid, draws aside the sable curtains of the night, and out bounces 
from his bed the jolly red-haired Phcebus, startled at being caught 
so late in the embraces of Dame Thetis. With many a stable- 
boy oath he harnesses his brazen-footed steeds, and whips, and 
lashes, and splashes up the firmament, like a loitering coachman, 
half an hour behind his time. And now behold that imp of 
fame and prowess, the headstrong Peter, bestriding a raw-boned, 
switch-tailed charger, gallantly arrayed in full regimentals, and 
bracing on his thigh that trusty brass-hilted sword, which had 
wrought such fearful deeds on the banks of the Delaware. 

Behold hard after him his doughty trumpeter, Yan Corlear, 
mounted on a broken-winded, wall-eyed, calico mare ; his stone 
pottle, which had laid low the mighty Risingh, slung under his 
arm ; and his trumpet displayed vauntingly in his right hand, 
decorated with a gorgeous banner, on which is emblazoned the 


great beaver of the Manhattoes. See them proudly issuing out 
of th$ city gate, like an iron-clad hero of yore, with his faithful 
squire at his heels ; the populace following with their eyes, and 
shouting many a parting wish and hearty cheering — Farewell, 
Hardkoppig Piet ! Farewell, honest Antony ! — Pleasant be 
your wayfaring — prosperous your return ! The stoutest hero 
that ever drew a sword, and the worthiest trumpeter that ever 
trod shoe-leather ! 

Legends are lamentably silent about the events that befell 
our adventurers in this their adventurous travel, excepting the 
Stuyvesant manuscript, which gives the substance of a pleasant 
little heroic poem, written on the occasion by Dominie JEgidius 
Luyck,* who appears to have been the poet-laureat of New- 
Amsterdam. This inestimable manuscript assures us, that it was 
a rare spectacle to behold the great Peter and his loyal follower 
hailing the morning sun, and rejoicing in the clear countenance 
of nature, as they pranced it through the pastoral scenes of Bloe- 
men Dael ; which, in those days, was a sweet and rural valley, 
beautified with many a bright wild-flower, refreshed by many a 
pure streamlet, and enlivened here and there by a delectable 
little Dutch cottage, sheltered under some sloping hill, and almost 
buried in embowering trees. 

Now did they enter upon the confines of Connecticut, where 
they encountered many grievous difficulties and perils. At one 
place they were assailed by a troop of country squires and militia 
colonels, who, mounted on goodly steeds, hung upon their rear 
for several miles, harassing them exceedingly with guesses and 

* This Luyck was moreover rector of the Latin School in Nieuw-Neder- 
lands, 1663. There are two pieces addressed to iEgidius Luyck in D. Selyn's 
MSS of poesies, upon his marriage with Judith Isendoorn. Old MS. 


questions, more especially the worthy Peter, whose silver-chased 
leg excited not a little marvel. At another place, hard by the 
renowned town of Stamford, they were set upon by a great and 
mighty legion of church deacons, who imperiously demanded of 
them five shillings, for traveling on Sunday, and threatened to 
carry them captive to a neighboring church, whose steeple peered 
above the trees ; but these the valiant Peter put to rout with 
little difficulty, insomuch that they bestrode their canes and gal- 
loped off in horrible confusion, leaving their cocked hats behind 
in the hurry of their flight. But not so easily did he escape from 
the hands of a crafty man of Pyquag; who, with undaunted 
perseverance, and repeated onsets, fairly bargained him out of 
his goodly switch-tailed charger, leaving in place thereof a vil- 
lanous, foundered Narraganset pacer. 

But, maugre all these hardships, they pursued their journey 
cheerily along the course of the soft flowing Connecticut, whose 
gentle waves, says the song, roll through many a fertile vale and 
sunny plain ; now reflecting the lofty spires of the bustling city, 
and now the rural beauties of the humble hamlet ; now echoing 
with the busy hum of commerce, and now with the cheerful song 
of the peasant. 

At every town would Peter Stuyvesant, who was noted for 
warlike punctilio, order the sturdy Antony to sound a courteous 
salutation ; though the manuscript observes, that the inhabitants 
were thrown into great dismay when they heard of his approach. 
For the fame of his incomparable achievements on the Delaware 
had spread throughout the east country, and they dreaded lest 
he had come to take vengeance on their manifold transgressions. 

But the good Peter rode through these towns with a smiling 
aspect ; waving his hand with inexpressible majesty and con- 


descension ; for he verily believed that the old clothes which these 
ingenious people had thrust into their broken windows, and the 
festoons of dried apples and peaches which ornamented the 
fronts of their houses, were so many decorations in honor of his 
approach ; as it was the custom in the days of chivalry to com- 
pliment renowned heroes by sumptuous displays of tapestry and 
gorgeous furniture. The women crowded to the doors to gaze 
upon him as he passed, so much does prowess in arms delight 
the gentle sex. The little children, too, ran after him in troops, 
staring with wonder at his regimentals, his brimstone breeches, 
and the silver garniture of his wooden leg. Nor must I omit 
to mention the joy which many strapping wenches betrayed at 
beholding the jovial Van Corlear, who had whilom delighted 
them so much with his trumpet, when he bore the great Peter's 
challenge to the Amphictyons. The kind-hearted Antony 
alighted from his calico mare, and kissed them all with infinite 
loving-kindness — and was right pleased to see a crew of little 
trumpeters crowding round him for his blessing ; each of whom 
he patted on the head, bade him be a good bov and gave him 
a penny to buy molasses candy. 



Now so it happened that while the great and good Peter Stuy- 
vesant, followed by his trusty squire, was making his chivalric 
progress through the east country, a dark and direful scheme of 
war against his beloved province, was forming in that nursery of 
monstrous projects, the British Cabinet. 

This, we are confidently informed, was the result of the secret 
instigations of the great council of the league ; who, finding them- 
selves totally incompetent to vie in arms with the heavy-sterned 
warriors of the Manhattoes and their iron-headed commander, 
sent emissaries to the British government, setting forth in eloquent 
language the wonders and delights of this delicious little Dutch 
Canaan, and imploring that a force might be sent out to invade it 
by sea, while they should co-operate by land. 

These emissaries arrived at a critical juncture, just as the 
British Lion was beginning to bristle up his mane and wag his 
tail ; for we are assured by the anonymous writer of the Stuy- 
vesant manuscript, that the astounding victory of Peter Stuy- 


vesant at Fort Christina, had resounded throughout Europe ; and 
Ins annexation of the territory of New-Sweden had awakened 
the jealousy of the British cabinet for their wild lands at the 
south. This jealousy was brought to a head by the representa- 
tions of Lord Baltimore, who declared that the territory thus 
annexed, lay within the lands granted to him by the British crown, 
and he claimed to be protected in his rights. Lord Sterling, 
another British subject, claimed the whole of Nassau or Long 
Island, once the Ophir of William the Testy, but now the kitchen- 
garden of the Manhattoes, which he declared to be British terri- 
tory by the right of discovery, but unjustly usurped by the Neder- 

The result of all these rumors and representations was a sud- 
den zeal on the part of his majesty Charles the Second, for the 
safety and well-being of his transatlantic possessions, and espe- 
cially for the recovery of the New-Netherlands, which Yankee 
logic had, somehow or other, proved to be a continuity of the 
territory taken possession of for the British crown by the Pil- 
grims, when they landed on Plymouth rock, fugitives from British 
oppression. All this goodly land, thus wrongfully held by the 
Dutchmen, he presented, in a fit of affection, to his brother the 
Duke of York : a donation truly royal, since none but great sov- 
ereigns have a right to give away what does not belong to them. 
That this munificent gift might not be merely nominal, his majesty 
ordered that an armament should be straightway dispatched to 
invade the city of New- Amsterdam by land and water, and put 
his brother in complete possession of the premises. 

Thus critically situated are the affairs of the New-Nederland- 
ers. While the honest burghers are smoking their pipes in sober 
security, and the privy councillors are snoring in the council 


chamber ; while Peter the Headstrong is undauntedly making his 
way through the east country in the confident hope by honest 
words and manly deeds to bring the grand council to terms, a hos- 
tile fleet is sweeping like a thunder cloud across the Atlantic, soon 
to rattle a storm of war about the ears of the dozing Nederland- 
ers, and to put the mettle of their governor to the trial. 

But come what may, I here pledge my veracity, that in all 
warlike conflicts and doubtful perplexities, he will ever acquit 
himself like a gallant, noble-minded, obstinate old cavalier. — For- 
ward then to the charge ! Shine out, propitious stars, on the 
renowned city of the Manhattoes ; and the blessing of St. Nicho- 
las go with thee — honest Peter Stuyvesant. 




Great nations resemble great men in this particular, that their 
greatness is seldom known until they get in trouble ; adversity, 
therefore, has been wisely denominated the ordeal of true great- 
ness, which, like gold, can never receive its real estimation until 
it has passed through the furnace. In proportion, therefore, as a 
nation, a community, or an individual (possessing the inherent 
quality of greatness) is involved in perils and misfortunes, in pro- 
portion does it rise in grandeur — and even when sinking under 
calamity, makes, like a house on fire, a more glorious display than 
ever it did in the fairest period of its prosperity. 

The vast empire of China, though teeming with population 
and imbibing and concentrating the wealth of nations, has vege- 
tated through a succession of drowsy ages ; and were it not for 
its internal revolution, and the subversion of its ancient govern- 
ment by the Tartars, might have presented nothing but a dull 
detail of monotonous prosperity. Pompeii and Herculaneum 
might have passed into oblivion, with a herd of their contempo- 
raries, had they not been fortunately overwhelmed by a volcano. 


The renowned city of Troy acquired celebrity only from its ten 
years' distress, and final conflagration — Paris rose in importance 
by the plots and massacres which ended in the exaltation of Na- 
poleon — and even the mighty London has skulked through the 
records of time, celebrated for nothing of moment excepting the 
plague, the great fire, and Guy Faux's gunpowder plot ! Thus 
cities and empires creep along, enlarging in silent obscurity, until 
they burst forth in some tremendous calamity — and snatch, as it 
were, immortality from the explosion ! 

The above principle being admitted, my reader will plainly 
perceive that the city of New- Amsterdam and its dependent 
province are on the high road to greatness. Dangers and hostili- 
ties threaten from every side, and it is really a matter of aston- 
ishment, how so small a state has been able, in so short a time, to 
entangle itself in so many difficulties. Ever since the province 
was first taken by the nose, at the Fort of Good Hope, in the 
tranquil days of Wouter Van Twiller, has it been gradually 
increasing in historic importance ; and never could it have had a 
more appropriate chieftain to conduct it to the pinnacle of gran- 
deur than Peter Stuyvesant. 

This truly headstrong hero having successfully effected his 
daring progress through the east country, girded up his loins as 
he approached Boston, and prepared for the grand onslaught with 
the Amphictyons, which was to be the crowning achievement of 
the campaign. Throwing Antony Van Corlear, who, with his 
calico mare, formed his escort and army, a little in the advance, 
and bidding him be of stout heart and great wind ; he placed 
himself firmly in his saddle, cocked his hat more fiercely over his 
left eye, summoned all the heroism of his soul into his coun- 
tenance, and, with one arm akimbo, the hand resting on the pom- 



mel of his sword, rode into the great metropolis of the league, 
Antony sounding his trumpet before him in a manner to electrify 
the whole community. 

Never was there such a stir in Boston as on this occasion ; 
never such a hurrying hither and thither about the streets ; such 
popping of heads out of windows ; such gathering of knots in 
market-places. Peter Stuyvesant was a straightforward man, 
and prone to do every thing above board. He would have ridden 
at once to the great council-house of the league and sounded a 
parley ; but the grand council knew the mettlesome hero they 
had to deal with, and were not for doing things in a hurry. On 
the contrary they sent forth deputations to meet him on the way ; 
to receive him in a style befitting the great potentate of the Man- 
hattoes, and to multiply all kinds of honors, and ceremonies, and 
formalities, and other courteous impediments in his path. Solemn 
banquets were accordingly given him, equal to thanksgiving 
feasts. Complimentary speeches were made him, wherein he was 
entertained with the surpassing virtues, long sufferings, and 
achievements of the Pilgrim Fathers ; and it is even said he was 
treated to a sight of Plymouth Rock, that great corner-stone of 
Yankee empire. 

I will not detain my readers by recounting the endless devices 
by which time was wasted, and obstacles and delays multiplied to 
the infinite annoyance of the impatient Peter. Neither will I 
fatigue them by dwelling on his negotiations with the grand coun- 
cil, when he at length brought them to business. Suffice it to 
say, it was like most other diplomatic negotiations ; a great deal 
was said and very little done ; one conversation led to another ; 
one conference begot misunderstandings which it took a dozen 
conferences to explain, at the end of which both parties found 


themselves just where they had begun, but ten times less likely 
to come to an agreement. 

In the midst of these perplexities which bewildered the brain 
and incensed the ire of honest Peter, he received private intelli- 
gence of the dark conspiracy matured in the British cabinet, 
with the astounding fact that a British squadron was already on 
the way to invade New- Amsterdam by sea; and that the grand 
council of Amphictyons, while thus beguiling him with subtleties, 
were actually prepared to co-operate by land ! 

Oh ! how did the sturdy old warrior rage and roar, when he 
found himself thus entrapped, like a lion in the hunter's toil ! 
Now did he draw his trusty sword, and determine to break in 
upon the council of the Amphictyons and put every mother's son 
of them to death. Now did he resolve to fight his way through- 
out all the regions of the east, and to lay waste Connecticut river ! 

Gallant, but unfortunate Peter ! Did I not enter with sad 
forebodings on this ill-starred expedition? Did I not tremble 
when I saw thee, with no other counselor than thine own head ; 
no other armor but an honest tongue, a spotless conscience, and 
a rusty sword ; no other protector but St. Nicholas, and no other 
attendant but a trumpeter — did I not tremble when I beheld thee 
thus sally forth to contend with all the knowing powers of New 
England ? 

It was a long time before the kind-hearted expostulations of 
Antony Van Corlear, aided by the soothing melody of his trum- 
pet, could lower the spirits of Peter Stuyvesant from their war- 
like and vindictive tone, and prevent his making widows and 
orphans of half the population of Boston. With great difficulty, 
he was prevailed upon to bottle up his wrath for the present ; to 
conceal from the council his knowledge of their machinations, and 


by effecting Ms escape, to be able to arrive in time for the salva- 
tion of the Manhattoes. 

The latter suggestion awakened a new ray of hope in his 
bosom ; he forthwith dispatched a secret message to his council- 
ors at New- Amsterdam, apprising them of their danger, and 
commanding them to put the city in a posture of defence ; prom- 
ising to come as soon as possible to their assistance. This done, 
he felt marvelously relieved, rose slowly, shook himself like a 
rhinoceros, and issued forth from his den, in much the same man- 
ner as Giant Despair is described to have issued from Doubting 
Castle, in the chivalric history of the Pilgrim's Progress. 

And now much does it grieve me that I must leave the 
gallant Peter in this imminent jeopardy ; but it behooves us to 
hurry back and see what is going on at New-Amsterdam, for 
greatly do I fear that city is already in a turmoil. Such was 
ever the fate of Peter Stuyvesant ; while doing one thing with 
heart and soul, he was too apt to leave every thing else at sixes 
and sevens. While, like a potentate of yore, he was absent 
attending to those things in person which in modern days are 
trusted to generals and ambassadors, his little territory at home 
was sure to get in an uproar; — all which was owing to that 
uncommon strength of intellect, which induced him to trust to 
nobody but himself, and which had acquired him the renowned 
appellation of Peter the Headstrong. 



There is no sight more truly interesting to a philosopher than a 
community, where every individual has a voice in public affairs ; 
where every individual considers himself the Atlas of the nation ; 
and where every individual thinks it his duty to bestir himself 
for the good of his country — I say, there is nothing more inter- 
esting to a philosopher than such a community in a sudden bustle 
of war. Such clamor of tongues — such patriotic bawling — such 
running hither and thither — every body in a hurry — every body 
in trouble — every body in the way, and every body interrupting 
his neighbor — who is busily employed in doing nothing ! It is 
like witnessing a great fire, where the whole community are 
agog — some dragging about empty engines — others scampering 
with full buckets, and spilling the contents into their neighbor's 
boots — and others ringing the church bells all night, by way of 
putting out the fire. Little firemen — like sturdy little knight? 
storming a breach, clambering up and down scaling-ladders, and 
bawling through tin trumpets, by way of directing the attack. — 
Here a fellow, in his great zeal to save the property of the unfor- 


tunate, catches up an anonymous chamber utensil, and gallants 
it off with an air of as much self-importance as if he had rescued 
a pot of money — there another throws looking-glasses and china 
out of the window, to save them from the flames — whilst those 
who can do nothing else run up and down the streets, keeping 
up an incessant cry of Fire ! Fire I Fire I 

" When the news arrived at Sinope," says Lucian — though I 
own the story is rather trite — " that Philip was about to attack 
them, the inhabitants were thrown into a violent alarm. Some 
ran to furbish up their arms ; others rolled stones to build up the 
walls — every body, in short, was employed, and every body in 
the way of his neighbor. Diogenes alone could find nothing to 
do — whereupon, not to be idle when the welfare of his country 
was at stake, he tucked up his robe, and fell to rolling his tub 
with might and main up and down the Gymnasium." In like 
manner did every mother's son in the patriotic community of 
New- Amsterdam, on receiving the missives of Peter Stuyvesant, 
busy himself most mightily in putting things in confusion, and 
assisting the general uproar. " Every man " — saith the Stuyve- 
sant manuscript — " flew to arms !" — by which is meant, that not 
one of our honest Dutch citizens would venture to church or to 
market without an old-fashioned spit of a sword dangling at his 
side, and a long Dutch fowling-piece on his shoulder — nor would 
he go out of a night without a lantern ; nor turn a corner without 
first peeping cautiously round, lest he should come unawares upon 
a British army ; — and we are informed that Stoffel Brinkerhoff, 
who was considered by the old women almost as brave a man as 
the governor himself, actually had two one-pound swivels mount- 
ed in his entry, one pointing out at the front door, and the other 
at the back. 


But the most strenuous measure resorted to on this awful 
occasion, and one which has since been found of wonderful 
efficacy, was to assemble popular meetings. These brawling 
convocations, I have already shown, were extremely offensive to 
Peter Stuyvesant ; but as this was a moment of unusual agi- 
tation, and as the old governor was not present to repress them, 
they broke out with intolerable violence. Hither, therefore, 
the orators and politicians repaired; striving who should bawl 
loudest, and exceed the others in hyperbolical bursts of patriot- 
ism, and in resolutions to uphold and defend the government. 
In these sage meetings it was resolved that they were the most 
enlightened, the most dignified, the most formidable, and the 
most ancient community upon the face of the earth. This 
resolution being carried unanimously, another was immediately 
proposed — whether it were not possible and politic to extermi- 
nate Great Britain ? upon which sixty-nine members spoke in 
the affirmative, and only one arose to suggest some doubts — 
who, as a punishment for his treasonable presumption, was 
immediately seized by the mob, and tarred and feathered — 
which punishment being equivalent to the Tarpeian Rock, he 
was afterwards considered as an outcast from society, and his 
opinion went for nothing. The question, therefore, being unani- 
mously carried in the affirmative, it was recommended to the 
grand council to pass it into a law ; which was accordingly done. 
By this measure the hearts of the people at large were wonder- 
fully encouraged, and they waxed exceeding choleric and va- 
lorous. Indeed, the first paroxysm of alarm having in some 
measure subsided — the old women having buried all the money 
they could lay their hands on, and their husbands daily getting 
fuddled with what was left — the community began even to stand 


on the offensive. Songs were manufactured in Low Dutch and 
sung about the streets, wherein the English were most wofully 
beaten, and shown no quarter ; and popular addresses were made, 
wherein it was proved to a certainty that the fate of Old 
England depended upon the will cf the New-Amsterdammers. 

Finally, to strike a violent blow at the very vitals of Great 
Britain, a multitude of the wiser inhabitants assembled, and 
having purchased all the British manufactures they could find, 
they made thereof a huge bonfire ; and, in the patriotic glow 
of the moment, every man present, who had a hat or breeches 
of English workmanship, pulled it off, and threw it into the 
names — to the irreparable detriment, loss, and ruin, of the 
English manufacturers. In commemoration of this great exploit, 
they erected a pole on the spot, with a device on the top intended 
to represent the province of Nieuw-Nederlands destroying 
Great Britain, under the similitude of an Eagle picking the 
little Island of Old England out of the globe ; but either through 
the unskillfulness of the sculptor, or his ill-timed waggery, it 
bore a striking resemblance to a goose, vainly striving to get 
hold of a dumpling. 





It will need but little penetration in any one conversant with the 
ways of that wise but windy potentate, the sovereign people, to 
discover that notwithstanding all the warlike bluster and bustle 
of the last chapter, the city of New- Amsterdam was not a whit 
more prepared for war than before. The privy councilors of 
Peter Stuy vesant were aware of this ; and, having received his 
private orders to put the city in an immediate posture of defence, 
they called a meeting of the oldest and richest burghers to assist 
them with their wisdom. These were that order of citizens com- 
monly termed " men of the greatest weight in the community ;" 
their weight being estimated by the heaviness of their heads and 
of their purses. Their wisdom in fact is apt to be of a ponder- 
ous kind, and to hang like a millstone round the neck of the com- 

Two things were unanimously determined in this assembly of 
venerables : First, that the city required to be put in a state of 
defence ; and Second, that, as the danger was imminent, there 
should be no time lost : which points being settled, they fell to 


making long speeches and belaboring one another in endless and 
intemperate disputes. For about this time was this unhappy city 
first visited by that talking endemic, so prevalent in this country, 
and which so invariably evinces itself, wherever a number of 
wise men assemble together ; breaking out in long, windy speeches ; 
caused, as physicians suppose, by the foul air which is ever gene- 
rated in a crowd. Now it was, moreover, that they first intro- 
duced the ingenious method of measuring the merits of an 
harangue by the hour-glass ; he being considered the ablest orator 
who spoke longest on a question. For which excellent invention, 
it is recorded, we are indebted to the same profound Dutch critic 
who judged of books by their size. 

This sudden passion for endless harangues, so little consonant 
with the customary gravity and taciturnity of our sage forefathers, 
was supposed by certain philosophers to have been imbibed, together 
with divers others barbarous propensities, from their savage neigh- 
bors ; who were peculiarly noted for long talks and council fires, 
and never undertook any affair of the least importance, without 
previous debates and harangues among their chiefs and old men. 
But the real cause was, that the people, in electing their repre- 
sentatives to the grand council, were particular in choosing them 
for their talents at talking, without inquiring whether they pos- 
sessed the more rare, difficult, and ofttimes important talent of 
holding their tongues. The consequence was, that this delibera- 
tive body was composed of the most loquacious men in the com- 
munity. As they considered themselves placed there to talk, 
every man concluded that his duty to his constituents, and, what 
is more, his popularity with them, required that he should 
harangue on every subject, whether he understood it or not. 
There was an ancient mode of burying a chieftain, by every sol- 



dier throwing his shield full of earth on the corpse, until a mighty 
mound was formed ; so whenever a question was brought forward 
in this assembly, every member pressing forward to throw on his 
quantum of wisdom, the subject was quickly buried under a moun- 
tain of words. 

We are told, that disciples on entering the school of Pythago- 
ras, were for two years enjoined silence, and forbidden either to 
ask questions, or make remarks. After they had thus acquired 
the inestimable art of holding their tongues, they were gradually 
permitted to make inquiries, and finally to communicate their own 

With what a beneficial effect could this wise regulation 
of Pythagoras be introduced in modern legislative bodies — and 
how wonderfully would it have tended to expedite business in the 
grand council of the Manhattoes ! 

At this perilous juncture the fatal word economy, the stum- 
bling-block of William the Testy, had been once more set afloat, 
according to which the cheapest plan of defence was insisted upon 
as the best ; it being deemed a great stroke of policy in furnish- 
ing powder to economize in ball. 

Thus did dame Wisdom (whom the wags of antiquity have 
humorously personified as a woman) seem to take a mischievous 
pleasure in jilting the venerable councilors of New- Amsterdam. 
To add to the confusion, the old factions of Short Pipes and Long 
Pipes, which had been almost strangled by the herculean grasp 
of Peter Stuyvesant, now sprang up with tenfold vigor. What- 
ever was proposed by a Short Pipe was opposed by the whole 
tribe of Long Pipes, who, like true partisans, deemed it their first 
duty to effect the downfall of their rivals ; their second to 
elevate themselves, and their third, to consult the public good ; 


though many left the third consideration out of question alto- 

In this great collision of hard heads it is astonishing the num- 
ber of projects that were struck out; projects which threw the 
wind-mill system of William the Testy completely in the back- 
ground. These were almost uniformly opposed by the " men of . 
the greatest weight in the community !" your weighty men, though 
slow to devise, being always great at " negativing." Among these 
were a set of fat, self-important old burghers, who smoked their 
pipes, and said nothing except to negative every plan of defence 
proposed. These were that class of " conservatives," who, having 
amassed a fortune, button up their pockets, shut their mouths, 
sink, as it were, into themselves, and pass the rest of their lives in 
the indwelling beatitude of conscious wealth ; as some phlegmatic 
oyster, having swallowed a pearl, closes its shell, sinks in the 
mud, and devotes the rest of its life to the conservation of its 
treasure. Every plan of defence seemed to these worthy old 
gentlemen pregnant with ruin. An armed force was a legion of 
locusts, preying upon the public property — to fit out a naval arma- 
ment was to throw their money into the sea — to build fortifica- 
tions was to bury it in the dirt. In short, they settled it as a 
sovereign maxim, so long as their pockets were full, no matter 
how much they were drubbed. — A kick left no scar — a broken 
head cured itself — but an empty purse was of all maladies the 
slowest to heal, and one in which nature did nothing for the 

Thus did this venerable assembly of sages lavish away that 
time which the urgency of affairs rendered invaluable, in empty 
brawls and long-winded speeches, without ever agreeing, except 
on the point with which they started, namely, that there was no 


time to be lost, and delay was ruinous. At length, St. Nicholas 
taking compassion on their distracted situation, and anxious to 
preserve them from anarchy, so ordered, that in the midst of one 
of their most noisy debates on the subject of fortification and de- 
fence, when they had nearly fallen to loggerheads in consequence 
of not being able to convince each other, the question was happily 
settled by the sudden entrance of a messenger, who informed 
them that a hostile fleet had arrived, and was actually advancing 
up the bay ! 





Like as an assemblage of belligerent cats, gibbering and cater- 
wauling ; eyeing one another with hideous grimaces and contor- 
tions ; spitting in each other's faces, and on the point of a general 
clapper-clawing, are suddenly put to scampering rout and confu- 
sion by the appearance of a house-dog ; so was the no less vo- 
ciferous council of New-Amsterdam amazed, astounded, and totally 
dispersed, by the sudden arrival of the enemy. Every member 
waddled home as fast as his short legs could carry him, wheezing as 
he went with corpulency and terror. Arrived at his castle, he bar- 
ricadoed the street-door, and buried himself in the cider-cellar, 
without venturing to peep out, lest he should have his head car- 
ried off by a cannon ball. 

The sovereign people crowded into the market-place, herding 
together with the instinct of sheep, who seek safety in each other's 
company, when the shepherd and his dog are absent, and the 
wolf is prowling round the fold. Far from finding relief, how- 
ever, they only increased each other's terrors. Each man looked 
ruefully in his neighbor's face, in search of encouragement, but 


only found in its wobegone lineaments a confirmation of his own 
dismay. Not a word now was to be heard of conquering Great 
Britain, not a whisper about the sovereign virtues of economy — 
while the old women heightened the general gloom by clamor- 
ously bewailing their fate, and calling for protection on St. Nicholas 
and Peter Stuyvesant. 

Oh, how did they bewail the absence of the lion-hearted 
Peter! — and how did they long for the comforting presence 
of Antony Van Corlear! Indeed a gloomy uncertainty hung 
over the fate of these adventurous heroes. Day after day had 
elapsed since the alarming message from the governor, without 
bringing any further tidings of his safety. Many a fearful con- 
jecture was hazarded as to what had befallen him and his loyal 
squire. Had they not been devoured alive by the cannibals of 
Marblehead and Cape Cod ? — Had they not been put to the ques- 
tion by the great council of Amplnctyons ? — Had they not been 
smothered in onions by the terrible men of Pyquag? — In the 
midst of this consternation and perplexity, when horror, like a 
mighty nightmare, sat brooding upon the litttle, fat, plethoric city 
of New- Amsterdam, the ears of the multitude were suddenly 
startled by the distant sound of a trumpet — it approached — it 
grew louder and louder — and now it resounded at the city gate. 
The public could not be mistaken in the well-known sound — -a 
shout of joy burst from their lips, as the gallant Peter, covered 
with dust, and followed by his faithful trumpeter, came galloping 
into the market-place. 

The first transports of the populace having subsided, they 
gathered round the honest Antony, as he dismounted, over- 
whelming him with greetings and congratulations. In breathless 
accents he related to them the marvelous adventures through 


which the old governor and himself had gone, in making their 
escape from the clutches of the terrible Amphictyons. But 
though the Stuyvesant manuscript, with its customary minute- 
ness where any thing touching the great Peter is concerned, is 
very particular as to the incidents of this masterly retreat, the 
state of the public affairs will not allow me to indulge in a 
full recital thereof. Let it suffice to say, that, while Peter 
Stuyvesant was anxiously revolving in his mind how he could 
make good his escape with honor and dignity, certain of the 
ships sent out for the conquest of the Manhattoes touched at 
the eastern ports to obtain supplies, and to call on the grand 
council of the league for its promised co-operation. Upon hear- 
ing of this, the vigilant Peter, perceiving that a moment's delay 
were fatal, made a secret and precipitate decampment ; though 
much did it grieve his lofty soul to be obliged to turn his back 
even upon a nation of foes. Many hair-breadth 'scapes and 
divers perilous mishaps did they sustain, as they scoured, without 
sound of trumpet, through the fair regions of the east. Already 
was the country in an uproar with hostile preparation, and they 
were obliged to take a large circuit in their flight, lurking along 
through the woody mountains of the Devil's backbone ; whence 
the valiant Peter sallied forth one day like a lion, and put to 
rout a whole legion of squatters, consisting of three generations 
of a prolific family, who were already on their way to take 
possession of some corner of the New-Netherlands. Nay, the 
faithful Antony had great difficulty, at sundry times, to prevent 
him, in the excess of his wrath, from descending down from the 
mountains, and falling, sword in hand, upon certain of the 
border-towns, who were marshaling forth their draggle-tailed 


The first movement of the governor, on reaching his dwell- 
ing, was to mount the roof, whence he contemplated with rueful 
aspect the hostile squadron. This had already come to anchor 
in the bay, and consisted of two stout frigates, having on board. 
as John Josselyn, gent., informs us, " three hundred valiant red- 
coats." Having taken this survey, he sat himself down and 
wrote an epistle to the commander, demanding the reason of his 
anchoring in the harbor without obtaining previous permission 
so to do. This letter was couched in the most dignified and 
courteous terms, though I have it from undoubted authority that 
his teeth were clinched, and he had a bitter sardonic grin upon 
his visage all the while he wrote. Having dispatched his letter, 
the grim Peter stumped to and fro about the town with a most 
war-betokening countenance, his hands thrust into his breeches 
pockets, and whistling a Low Dutch psalm-tune, which bore no 
small resemblance to the music of a northeast wind, when a 
storm is brewing. The very dogs as they eyed him skulked 
away in dismay ; while all the old and ugly women of New- 
Amsterdam ran howling at his heels, imploring him to save them 
from murder, robbery, and pitiless ravishment ! 

The reply of Colonel Nichols, who commanded the invaders, 
was couched in terms of equal courtesy with the letter of the 
governor ; declaring the right and title of his British Majesty to 
the province ; where he affirmed the Dutch to be mere inter- 
lopers ; and demanding that the town, forts, etc., should be forth- 
with rendered into his majesty's obedience and protection ; prom- 
ising, at the same time, life, liberty, estate, and free trade, to 
every Dutch denizen who should readily submit to his majesty's 

Peter Stuyvesant read over this friendly epistle with some 


such harmony of aspect as we may suppose a crusty farmer reads 
the loving letter of John Stiles, warning him of an action of 
ejectment. He was not, however, to be taken by surprise ; but, 
thrusting the summons into his breeches pocket, stalked three 
times across the room, took a pinch of snuff with great vehe- 
mence, and then, loftily waving his hand, promised to send an 
answer the next morning. He now summoned a general meeting 
of his privy councilors and burgomasters, not to ask their advice, 
for, confident in his own strong head, he needed no man's counsel, 
but apparently to give them a piece of his mind on their late 
craven conduct. 

His orders being duly promulgated, it was a piteous sight to 
behold the late valiant burgomasters, who had demolished the 
whole British empire in their harangues, peeping ruefully out of 
their hiding places ; crawling cautiously forth ; dodging through 
narrow lanes and alleys ; starting at every little dog that barked ; 
mistaking lamp-posts for British grenadiers ; and, in the excess 
of their panic, metamorphosing pumps into formidable soldiers, 
leveling blunderbusses at their bosoms ! Having, however, in 
despite of numerous perils and difficulties of the kind, arrived 
safe, without the loss of a single man, at the hall of assembly, 
they took their seats, and awaited in fearful silence the arrival of 
the governor. In a few moments the wooden leg of the intrepid 
Peter was heard in regular and stout-hearted thumps upon the 
staircase. He entered the chamber, arrayed in full suit of regi- 
mentals, and carrying his trusty toledo, not girded on his thigh, 
but tucked under his arm. As the governor never equipped 
himself in this portentous manner unless something of martial 
nature were working within his pericranium, his council regarded 
him ruefully, as if they saw fire and sword in his iron coun- 


tenance, and forgot to light their pipes in breathless sus- 

His first words were, to rate his council soundly for having 
wasted in idle debate and party feud the time which should have 
been devoted to putting the city in a state of defence. He was 
particularly indignant at those brawlers who had disgraced the 
councils of the province by empty bickerings and scurrilous 
invectives against an absent enemy. He now called upon them 
to make good their words by deeds, as the enemy they had defied 
and derided was at the gate. Finally, he informed them of the 
summons he had received to surrender, but concluded by swear- 
ing to defend the province as long as Heaven was on his side and 
he had a wooden leg to stand upon ; which warlike sentence he 
emphasized by a thwack with the flat of his sword upon the table, 
that quite electrified his auditors. 

The privy councilors, who had long since been brought into 
as perfect discipline as were ever the soldiers of the great Frede- 
rick, knew there was no use in saying a word — so lighted their 
pipes, and smoked away in silence, like fat and discreet councilors. 
But the burgomasters, being inflated with considerable importance 
and self-sufficiency, acquired at popular meetings, were not so 
easily satisfied. Mustering up fresh spirit, when they found there 
was some chance of escaping from their present jeopardy without 
the disagreeable alternative of fighting, they requested a copy of 
the summons to surrender, that they might show it to a general 
meeting of the people. 

So insolent and mutinous a request would have been enough 
to have roused the gorge of the tranquil Yan Twiller himself — 
what then must have been it3 effect upon the great Stuyvesant, 
who was not only a Dutchman, a governor, and a valiant wooden- 


legged soldier to boot, but withal a man of the most stomachful 
and gunpowder disposition ? He burst forth into a blaze of indig- 
nation, — swore not a mothers son of them should see a syllable 
of it — that as to their advice or concurrence, he did not care a 
whiff of tobacco for either — that they might go home, and go to 
bed like old women ; for he was determined to defend the colony 
himself, without the assistance of them or their adherents ! So 
saying, he tucked his sword under his arm, cocked his hat upon 
his head, and girding up his loins, stumped indignantly out of the 
council-chamber — every body making room for him as he passed. 

No sooner was he gone than the busy burgomasters called a 
public meeting in front of the Stadt-house, where they appointed 
as chairman one Dofue Roerback, formerly a meddlesome mem- 
ber of the cabinet during the reign of William the Testy, but 
kicked out of office by Peter Stuyvesant on taking the reins of 
government. He was, withal, a mighty gingerbread baker in the 
land, and reverenced by the populace as a man of dark know- 
ledge, seeing that he was the first to imprint New- Year cakes 
with the mysterious hieroglyphics of the Cock and Breeches, and 
such like magical devices. 

This burgomaster, who still chewed the cud of ill-will against 
Peter Stuyvesant, addressed the multitude in what is called a 
patriotic speech, informing them of the courteous summons which 
the governor had received, to surrender ; of his refusal to comply 
therewith, and of his denying the public even a sight of the sum- 
mons, which doubtless contained conditions highly to the honor 
and advantage of the province. 

He then proceeded to speak of his Excellency in high-sound- 
ing terms of vituperation, suited to the dignity of his station ; com- 
paring him to Nero, Caligula, and other flagrant great men of 


yore ; assuring the people that the history of the world did not 
contain a despotic outrage equal to the present. That it would 
be recorded in letters of fire, on the blood-stained tablet of his- 
tory ! That ages would roll back with sudden horror when they 
came to view it ! That the womb of time (by the way, your 
orators and writers take strange liberties with the womb of time, 
though some would fain have us believe that time is an old gen- 
tleman) — that the womb of time, pregnant as it was with direful 
horrors, would never produce a parallel enormity ! — with a 
variety of other heart-rending, soul-stirring tropes and figures, 
which I cannot enumerate ; neither, indeed, need I, for they 
were of the kind which even to the present day form the style 
of popular harangues and patriotic orations, and may be classed 
in rhetoric under the general title of Rigmarole. 

The result of this speech of the inspired burgomaster, was a 
memorial addressed to the governor, remonstrating in good round 
terms on his conduct. It was proposed that Dofue Roerback 
himself should be the bearer of this memorial, but this he warily 
declined, having no inclination of coming again within kicking 
distance of his Excellency. Who did deliver it has never been 
named in history, in which neglect he has suffered grievous 
wrong ; seeing that he was equally worthy of blazon with him 
perpetuated in Scottish song and story by the surname of Bell- 
the-cat. All we know of the fate of this memorial is, that it was 
used by the grim Peter to light his pipe ; which, from the vehe- 
mence with which he smoked it, was evidently any thing but a 
pipe of peace. 




Now did the high-minded Pieter de Groodt shower down a pannier 
load of maledictions upon his burgomasters for a set of self-willed, 
obstinate, factious varlets, who would neither be convinced nor 
persuaded. Nor did he omit to bestow some left-handed compli- 
ments upon the sovereign people, as a herd of poltroons, who had no 
relish for the glorious hardships and illustrious misadventures of 
battle — but would rather stay at home, and eat and sleep in igno- 
ble ease, than fight in a ditch for immortality and a broken head. 
Resolutely bent, however, upon defending his beloved city, 
in despite even of itself, he called unto him his trusty Van Cor- 
lear, who was his right-hand man in all times of emergency. 
Him did he adjure to take his war-denouncing trumpet, and 
mounting his horse, to beat up the country night and day — 
sounding the alarm along the pastoral borders of the Bronx — 
startling the wild solitudes of Croton — arousing the rugged yeo- 
manry of Weehawk and Hoboken — the mighty men of battle of 
Tappan Bay — and the brave boys of Tarry-Town, Petticoat- 


Lane, and Sleepy-Hollow — charging them one and all to sling 
their powder-horns, shoulder their fowling-pieces, and march 
merrily down to the Manhattoes. 

Now there was nothing in all the world, the divine sex ex- 
cepted, that Antony Yan Corlear loved better than errands of 
this kind. So just stopping to take a lusty dinner, and bracing 
to his side his junk bottle, well charged with heart-inspiring 
Hollands, he issued jollily from the city gate, which looked out 
upon what is at present called Broadway ; sounding a farewell 
strain, that rung in sprightly echoes through the winding streets 
of New- Amsterdam — Alas ! never more were they to be glad- 
dened by the melody of their favorite trumpeter ! 

It was a dark and stormy night when the good Antony ar- 
rived at the creek (sagely denominated Haerlem river) which 
separates the island of Manna-hata from the mainland. The 
wind was high, the elements were in an uproar, and no Charon 
could be found to ferry the adventurous sounder of brass across 
the water. For a short time he vapored like an impatient ghost 
upon the brink, and then bethinking himself of the urgency of 
his errand took a hearty embrace of his stone bottle, swore most 
valorously that he would swim across in spite of the devil! 
(Spyt den Duyvel,) and daringly plunged into the stream. Luck- 
less Antony ! scarce had he buffeted half-way over, when he was 
observed to struggle violently, as if battling with the spirit of 
the waters — instinctively he put his trumpet to his mouth, and 
giving a vehement blast — sank forever to the bottom ! 

The clangor of his trumpet, like that of the ivory horn of the 
renowned Paladin Orlando, when expiring in the glorious field 
of Roncesvalles, rang far and wide through the country, alarming 
the neighbors round, who hurried in amazement to the spot. 


Here an old Dutch burgher, famed for his veracity, and who had 
been a witness of the fact, related to them the melancholy affair ; 
with the fearful addition (to which I am slow of giving belief) 
that he saw the duyvel, in the shape of a huge moss-bonker, seize 
the sturdy Antony by the leg, and drag him beneath the waves. 
Certain it is, the place, with the adjoining promontory, which 
projects into the Hudson, has been called Spyt den Duyvel ever 
since — the ghost of the unfortunate Antony still haunts the sur- 
rounding solitudes, and his trumpet has often been heard by the 
neighbors, of a stormy night, mingling with the howling of the 
blast. Nobody ever attempts to swim across the creek after 
dark ; on the contrary, a bridge has been built to guard against 
such melancholy accidents in future — and as to moss-bonkers, 
they are held in such abhorrence, that no true Dutchman will 
admit them to his table, who loves good fish and hates the devil. 

Such was the end of Antony Yan Corlear — a man deserving 
of a better fate. He lived roundly and soundly, like a true and 
jolly bachelor, until the day of his death ; but though he was 
never married, yet did he leave behind some two or three dozen 
children, in different parts of the country — fine, chubby, brawling, 
flatulent little urchins ; from whom, if legends speak true, (and 
they are not apt to lie,) did descend the innumerable race of edit- 
ors, who people and defend this country, and who are bountifully 
paid by the people for keeping up a constant alarm — and making 
them miserable. It is hinted, too, that in his various expeditions 
into the East he did much towards promoting the population of 
the country ; in proof of which is adduced the notorious propen- 
sity of the people of those parts to sound their own trumpet. 

As some way-worn pilgrim, when the tempest whistles through 
his locks and night is gathering round, beholds his faithful dog, 


the companion and solace of his journeying, stretched lifeless at 
his feet, so did the generous-hearted hero of the Manhattoes 
contemplate the untimely end of Antony Yan Corlear. He had 
been the faithful attendant of his footsteps ; he had charmed him 
in many a weary hour by his honest gayety and the martial 
melody of his trumpet, and had followed him with' unflinching 
loyalty and affection through many a scene of direful peril and 
mishap. He was gone forever ! and that, too, at a moment when 
every mongrel cur was skulking from his side. This — Peter 
Stuyvesant — was the moment to try thy fortitude ; and this 
was the moment when thou didst indeed shine forth — Peter the 
Headstrong ! 

The glare of day had long dispelled the horrors of the stormy 
night ; still all was dull and gloomy. The late jovial Apollo hid 
his face behind lugubrious clouds, peeping out now and then for 
an instant, as if anxious, yet fearful, to see what was going on in 
his favorite city. This was the eventful morning when the great 
Peter was to give his reply to the summons of the invaders. 
Already was he closeted with his privy council, sitting in grim 
state, brooding over the fate of his favorite trumpeter, and anon 
boiling with indignation as the insolence of his recreant burgo- 
masters flashed upon his mind. While in this state of irritation, 
a courier arrived in all haste from Winthrop, the subtle governor 
of Connecticut, counseling him, in the most affectionate and dis- 
interested manner, to surrender the province, and magnifying the 
dangers and calamities to which a refusal would subject him. — 
What a moment was this to intrude officious advice upon a man 
who never took advice in his whole life ! — The fiery old governor 
strode up and down the chamber with a vehemence that made 
the bosoms of his councilors to quake with awe — railing at his 


unlucky fate, that thus made him the constant butt of factious 
subjects, and Jesuitical advisers. 

Just at this ill-chosen juncture, the officious burgomasters, who 
had heard of the arrival of mysterious dispatches, came marching 
in a body into the room, with a legion of schepens and toad-eaters 
at their heels, and abruptly demanded a perusal of the letter. 
This was too much for the spleen of Peter Stuyvesant. He tore 
the letter in a thousand pieces — threw it in the face of the nearest 
burgomaster — broke his pipe over the head of the next — hurled 
his spitting-box at an unlucky schepen, who was just retreating 
out at the door, and finally prorogued the whole meeting sine die. 
by kicking them down stairs with his wooden leg. 

As soon as the burgomasters could recover from their confu- 
sion and had time to breathe, they called a public meeting, where 
they related at full length, and with appropriate coloring and 
exaggeration, the despotic and vindictive deportment of the gov- 
ernor ; declaring that, for their own parts, they did not value a 
straw the being kicked, cuffed, and mauled by the timber toe of 
his excellency, but that they felt for the dignity of the sovereign 
people, thus rudely insulted by the outrage committed on the seat 
of honor of their representatives. The latter part of the harangue 
came home at once to that delicacy of feeling, and jealous pride 
of character, vested in all true mobs ; who, though they may bear 
injuries without a murmur, yet are marvelously jealous of their 
sovereign dignity — and there is no knowing to what act of resent- 
ment they might have been provoked, had they not been some- 
what more afraid of their sturdy old governor than they were of 
St. Nicholas, the English — or the d 1 himself. 




There is something exceedingly sublime and melancholy in the 
spectacle which the present crisis of our history presents. An 
illustrious and venerable little city — the metropolis of a vast 
extent of uninhabited country — garrisoned by a doughty host of 
orators, chairmen, committee-men, burgomasters, schepens, and 
old women — governed by a determined and strong-headed war- 
rior, and fortified by mud batteries, palisadoes, and resolutions — 
blockaded by sea, beleaguered by land, and threatened with dire- 
ful desolation from without ; while its very vitals are torn with 
internal faction and commotion ! Never did historic pen record 
a page of more complicated distress, unless it be the strife that 
distracted the Israelites during the siege of Jerusalem — where 
discordant parties were cutting each other's throats, at the mo- 
ment when the victorious legions of Titus had toppled down their 
bulwarks, and were carrying fire and sword into the very sanc- 
tum sanctorum of the temple. 

Governor Stuyvesant having triumphantly put his grand 
council to the rout, and delivered himself from a multitude of 


impertinent advisers, dispatched a categorical reply to the com- 
manders of the invading squadron ; wherein he asserted the right 
and title of their High Mightinesses the Lords States General to 
the province of New-Netherlands, and trusting in the righteous- 
ness of his cause, set the whole British nation at defiance ! 

My anxiety to extricate my readers and myself from these 
disastrous scenes prevents me from giving the whole of this 
gallant letter, which concluded in these manly and affectionate 
terms : 

" As touching the threats in your conclusion, we have nothing 
to answer, only that we fear nothing but what God (who is as 
just as merciful) shall lay upon us ; all things being in his gracious 
disposal, and we may as well be preserved by him with small 
forces as by a great army ; which makes us to wish you all hap- 
piness and prosperity, and recommend you to his protection. — 
My lords, your thrice humble and affectionate servant and friend, 

"P. Stuyvesant." 

Thus having thrown his gauntlet, the brave Peter stuck a 
pair of horse-pistols in his belt, girded an immense powder-horn 
on his side — thrust his sound leg into a Hessian boot, and clap- 
ping his fierce little war-hat on the top of his head — paraded up 
and down in front of his house, determined to defend his beloved 
city to the last. 

While all these struggles and dissensions were prevailing in 
the unhappy city of New- Amsterdam, and while its worthy but 
ill-starred governor was framing the above-quoted letter, the 
English commanders did not remain idle. They had agents se- 
cretly employed to foment the fears and clamors of the populace ; 
and moreover circulated far and wide, through the adjacent coun- 


try, a proclamation, repeating the terms they had already held 
out in their summons to surrender, at the same time beguiling the 
simple Nederlanders with the most crafty and conciliating profes- 
sions. They promised that every man who voluntarily submitted 
to the authority of his British Majesty should retain peaceful 
possession of his house, his vrouw, and his cabbage-garden. That 
he should be suffered to smoke his pipe, speak Dutch, wear as 
many breeches as he pleased, and import bricks, tiles, and stone 
jugs from Holland, instead of manufacturing them on the spot. 
That he should on no account be compelled to learn the English 
language, nor eat codfish on Saturdays, nor keep accounts in any 
other way than by casting them up on his fingers, and chalking 
them down upon the crown of his hat ; as is observed among the 
Dutch yeomanry at the present day. That every man should be 
allowed quietly to inherit his father's hat, cbat, shoe-buckles, pipe, 
and every other personal appendage ; and that no man should be 
obliged to conform to any improvements, inventions, or any other 
modern innovations ; but, on the contrary, should be permitted to 
build his house, follow his trade, manage his farm, rear his hogs, 
and educate his children, precisely as his ancestors had done be- 
fore him from time immemorial. Finally, that he should have 
all the benefits of free trade, and should not be required to 
acknowledge any other saint in the calendar than St. Nicholas, 
who should thenceforward, as before, be considered the tutelar 
saint of the city. 

These terms, as may be supposed, appeared very satisfactory 
to the people, who had a great disposition to enjoy their property 
unmolested, and a most singular aversion to engage in a contest, 
where they could gain little more than honor and broken heads — 
the first of which they held in philosophic indifference, the latter 


ill utter detestation. By these insidious means, therefore, did the 
English succeed in alienating the confidence and affections of the 
populace from their gallant old governor, whom they considered 
as obstinately bent upon running them into hideous misadven- 
tures ; and did not hesitate to speak their minds freely, and abuse 
him most heartily — behind his back. 

Like as a mighty grampus, when assailed and buffeted by 
roaring waves and brawling surges, still keeps on an undeviating 
course, rising above the boisterous billows, spouting and blowing 
as he emerges — so did the inflexible Peter pursue, unwavering, 
his determined career, and rise, contemptuous, above the clamors 
of the rabble. 

But when the British warriors found that he set their power 
at defiance, they dispatched recruiting officers to Jamaica and 
Jericho, and Nineveh, and Quag, and Patchog, and all those towns 
on Long Island which had been subdued of yore by Stoffel Brink- 
erhoff ; stirring up the progeny of Preserved Fish, and Deter- 
mined Cock, and those other New-England squatters, to assail 
the city of New- Amsterdam by land ; while the hostile ships pre- 
pared for an assault by water. 

The streets of New- Amsterdam now presented a scene of 
wild dismay and consternation. In vain did Peter Stuyvesant 
order the citizens to arm and assemble on the battery. Blank 
terror reigned over the community. The whole party of Short 
Pipes in the course of a single night had changed into arrant old 
women — a metamorphosis only to be paralleled by the prodigies 
recorded by Livy as having happened at Rome at the approach 
of Hannibal, when statues sweated in pure affright, goats were 
converted into sheep, and cocks, turning into hens, ran cackling 
about the street. 


Thus baffled in all attempts to put the city in a state of de- 
fence; blockaded from without; tormented from within, and 
menaced with a Yankee invasion, even the stiff-necked will of 
Peter Stuyvesant for once gave way, and in spite of his mighty 
heart, which swelled in his throat until it nearly choked him, he 
consented to a treaty of surrender. 

Words cannot express the transports of the populace, on re- 
ceiving this intelligence ; had they obtained a conquest over their 
enemies, they could not have indulged greater delight. The 
streets resounded with their congratulations — they extolled their 
governor as the father and deliverer of his country — they crowded 
to his house to testify their gratitude, and were ten times more 
noisy in their plaudits than when he returned, "with victory 
perched upon his beaver, from the glorious capture of Fort Chris- 
tina. — But the indignant Peter shut his doors and windows, and 
took refuge in the innermost recesses of his mansion, that he 
might not hear the ignoble rejoicings of the rabble. 

Commissioners were now appointed on both sides and a 
capitulation was speedily arranged ; all that was wanting to 
ratify it was that it should be signed by the governor. When 
the commissioners waited upon him for this purpose they were 
received with grim and bitter courtesy. His warlike accoutre- 
ments were laid aside — an old Indian night-gown was wrapped 
about his rugged limbs, a red night-cap overshadowed his frown- 
ing brow, an iron-gray beard of three days' growth gave addi- 
tional grimness to his visage. Thrice did he seize a worn-out 
stump of a pen, and essay to sign the loathome paper — thrice did 
he clinch his teeth, and make a horrible countenance, as though 
a dose of rhubarb, senna, and ipecacuanha, had been offered to 
his lips ; at length, dashing it from him, he seized his brass-hilted 


sword, and jerking it from the scabbard, swore by St. Nicholas, 
to sooner die than yield to any power under heaven. 

For two whole days did he persist in this magnanimous reso- 
lution, during which his house was besieged by the rabble, and 
menaces and clamorous revilings exhausted to no purpose. And 
now another course was adopted to soothe, if possible, his mighty 
ire. A procession was formed by the burgomasters and schepens, 
followed by the populace, to bear the capitulation in state to the 
governor's dwelling. They found the castle strongly barricadoed, 
and the old hero in full regimentals, with his cocked hat on his 
head, posted with a blunderbuss at the garret window. 

There was something in this formidable position that struck 
even the ignoble vulgar with awe and admiration. The brawling 
multitude could not but reflect with self-abasement upon their own 
pusillanimous conduct, when they beheld their hardy but deserted 
old governor, thus faithful to his post, like a forlorn hope, and 
fully prepared to defend his ungrateful city to the last. These 
compunctions, however, were soon overwhelmed by the recurring 
tide of public apprehension. The populace arranged themselves 
before the house, taking off their hats with most respectful 
humility — Burgomaster Roerback, who was of that popular class 
of orators described by Sallust, as being " talkative rather than 
eloquent," stepped forth and addressed the governor in a speech 
of three hours' length, detailing, in the most pathetic terms, the 
calamitous situation of the province, and urging him in a constant 
repetition of the same arguments and words to sign the capitula- 

The mighty Peter eyed him from his garret window in grim 
silence — now and then his eye would glance over the surrounding 
rabble, and an indignant grin, like that of an angry mastiff, would 


mark his iron visage. But though a man of most undaunted 
mettle — though he had a heart as big as an ox, and a head that 
would have set adamant to scorn — yet after all he was a mere 
mortal. Wearied out by these repeated oppositions, and this 
eternal haranguing, and perceiving that unless he complied, the 
inhabitants would follow their own inclination, or rather their 
fears, without waiting for his consent ; or, what was still worse, 
the Yankees would have time to pour in their forces and claim a 
share in the conquest, he testily ordered them to hand up the 
paper. It was accordingly hoisted to him on the end of a pole, 
and having scrawled his name at the bottom of it, he anathema- 
tized them all for a set of cowardly, mutinous, degenerate pol- 
troons — threw the capitulation at their heads, slammed down the 
window, and was heard stumping down stairs with vehement 
indignation. The rabble incontinently took to their heels ; even 
the burgomasters were not slow in evacuating the premises, fear- 
ing lest the sturdy Peter might issue from his den, and greet them 
with some unwelcome testimonial of his displeasure. 

Within three hours after the surrender, a legion of British 
beef-fed warriors poured into New- Amsterdam, taking possession 
of the fort and batteries. And now might be heard, from all 
quarters, the sound of hammers made by the old Dutch burghers, 
in nailing up their doors and windows, to protect their vrouws 
from these fierce barbarians, whom they contemplated in silent 
sullenness from the garret windows as they paraded through the 

Thus did Colonel Richard Nichols, the commander of the 
British forces, enter into quiet possession of the conquered realm 
as locum tenens for the Duke of York. The victory was attended 
with no other outrage than that of changing the name of the 


province and its metropolis, which thenceforth were denominated 
New-York, and so have continued to be called unto the present 
day. The inhabitants, according to treaty, were allowed to main- 
tain quiet possession of their property ; but so inveterately did 
they retain their abhorrence of the British nation, that in a 
private meeting of the leading citizens, it was unanimously deter- 
mined never to ask any of their conquerors to dinner. 


Modern historians assert that when the New-Netherlands were thus overrun 
by the British, as Spain in ancient days by the Saracens, a resolute band 
refused to bend the neck to the invader. Led by one Garret Van Home, a 
valorous and gigantic Dutchman, they crossed the bay and buried themselves 
among the marshes and cabbage-gardens of Communipaw ; as did Pelayo and 
his followers among the mountains of Asturias. Here their descendants have 
remained ever since, keeping themselves apart, like seed corn, to repeople the 
city with the genuine breed whenever it shall be effectually recovered from its 
intruders. It is said the genuine descendants of the Nederlanders who inhabit 
New- York, still look with longing eyes to the green marshes of ancient Pavonia, 
as did the conquered Spaniards of yore to the stern mountains of Asturias; 
considering these the regions whence deliverance is to come. 




Thus then have I concluded this great historical enterprise ; but 
before I lay aside my weary pen, there yet remains to be per- 
formed one pious duty. If among the variety of readers who 
may peruse this book, there should haply be found any of those 
souls of true nobility, which glow with celestial fire at the history 
of the generous and the brave, they will doubtless be anxious 
to know the fate of the gallant Peter Stuyvesant. To gratify 
one such sterling heart of gold I would go more lengths than to 
instruct the cold-blooded curiosity of a whole fraternity of philo- 

No sooner had that high-mettled cavalier signed the articles 
of capitulation, than, determined not to witness the humiliation 
of his favorite city, he turned his back on its walls and made a 
growling retreat to his bouwery, or country-seat, which was 
situated about two miles off; where he passed the remainder of 
his days in patriarchal retirement. There he enjoyed that tran- 
quillity of mind, which he had never known amid the distracting 
cares of government ; and tasted the sweets of absolute and 


uncontrolled authority, which his factious subjects had so often 
dashed with the bitterness of opposition. 

No persuasions could ever induce him to revisit the city — on 
the contrary, he would always have his great arm-chair placed 
with its back to the windows which looked in that direction ; 
until a thick grove of trees planted by his own hand grew up and 
formed a screen that effectually excluded it from the prospect 
He railed continually at the degenerate innovations and improve- 
ments introduced by the conquerors — forbade a word of their 
detested language to be spoken in his family, a prohibition readily 
obeyed, since none of the household could speak any thing but 
Dutch — and even ordered a fine avenue to be cut down in front 
of his house because it consisted of English cherry-trees. 

The same incessant vigilance, which blazed forth when he 
had a vast province under his care, now showed itself with equal 
vigor, though in narrower limits. He patrolled with unceasing 
watchfulness the boundaries of his little territory ; repelled every 
encroachment with intrepid promptness ; punished every vagrant 
depredation upon his orchard or his farm-yard with inflexible 
severity ; and conducted every stray hog or cow in triumph to 
the pound. But to the indigent neighbor, the friendless stranger, 
or the weary wanderer, his spacious doors were ever open, and 
his capacious fire-place, that emblem of his own warm and 
generous heart, had always a corner to receive and cherish 
them. There was an exception to this, I must confess, in case 
the ill-starred applicant were an Englishman or a Yankee ; 
to whom, though he might extend the hand of assistance, he 
could never be brought to yield the rites of hospitality. Nay, if 
peradventure some straggling merchant of the east should stop 
at his door, with his cart-load of tin ware or wooden bowls, the 


fiery Peter would issue forth like a giant from his castle, and 
make such a furious clattering among Ins pots and kettles, that 
the vender of " notions" was fain to betake himself to instant flight. 

His suit of regimentals, worn threadbare by the brush, were 
carefully hung up in the state bed-chamber, and regularly aired 
the first fair day of every month ; and his cocked hat and trusty 
sword were suspended in grim repose over the parlor mantel- 
piece, forming supporters to a full-length portrait of the renowned 
admiral Von Tromp. In his domestic empire he maintained strict 
discipline, and a well-organized despotic government ; but though 
his own will was the supreme law, yet the good of his subjects 
was his constant object. He watched over, not merely their 
immediate comforts, but their morals, and their ultimate welfare ; 
for he gave them abundance of excellent admonition, nor could 
any of them complain, that, when occasion required, he was by 
any means niggardly in bestowing wholesome correction. 

The good old Dutch festivals, those periodical demonstrations 
of an overflowing heart and a thankful spirit, which are falling 
into sad disuse among my fellow-citizens, were faithfully observed 
in the mansion of Governor Stuyvesant. New-year was truly a 
day of open-handed liberality, of jocund revelry, and warm- 
hearted congratulation, when the bosom swelled with genial 
good-fellowship, and the plenteous table was attended with an 
unceremonious freedom, and honest broad-mouthed merriment, 
unknown in these days of degeneracy and refinement. Paas and 
Pinxter were scrupulously observed throughout his dominions ; 
nor was the day of St. Nicholas suffered to pass by, without 
making presents, hanging the stocking in the chimney, and com- 
plying with all its other ceremonies. 

Once a-year, on the first day of April, he used to array him- 


self in full regimentals, being the anniversary of his triumphal 
entry into New- Amsterdam, after the conquest of New-Sweden. 
This was always a kind of saturnalia among the domestics, when 
they considered themselves at liberty, in some measure, to say 
and do what they pleased ; for on this day their master was 
always observed to unbend, and become exceeding pleasant and 
jocose, sending the old gray-headed negroes on April-fool's er- 
rands for pigeons' milk ; not one of whom but allowed himself to 
be taken in, and humored his old master's jokes, as became a 
faithful and well-disciplined dependant. Thus did he reign, hap- 
pily and peacefully on his own land — injuring no man — envying 
no man — molested by no outward strifes ; perplexed by no inter- 
nal commotions — and the mighty monarchs of the earth, who 
were vainly seeking to maintain peace, and promote the welfare 
of mankind, by war and desolation, would have done well to have 
made a voyage to the little island of Manna-hata, and learned a 
lesson in government from the domestic economy of Peter Stuy- 

In process of time, however, the old governor, like all other 
children of mortality, began to exhibit evident tokens of decay. 
Like an aged oak, which, though it long has braved the fury of 
the elements, and still retains its gigantic proportions, begins to 
shake and groan with every blast — so was it with the gallant 
Peter ; for though he still bore the port and semblance of what 
he was, in the days of his hardihood and chivalry, yet did age 
and infirmity begin to sap the vigor of his frame — but his heart, 
that unconquerable citadel, still triumphed unsubdued. With 
matchless avidity would he listen to every article of intelligence 
concerning the battles between the English and Dutch — still 
would his pulse beat high, whenever he heard of the victories of 


De Puyter — and his countenance lower, and his eyebrows knit, 
when fortune turned in favor of the English. At length, as on a 
certain day he had just smoked his fifth pipe, and was napping 
after dinner, in his arm-chair, conquering the whole British 
nation in his dreams, he was suddenly aroused by a ringing of 
bells, rattling of drums, and roaring of cannon, that put all his 
blood in a ferment. But when he learnt that these rejoicings 
were in honor of a great victory obtained by the combined 
English and French fleets over the brave De Euyter, and the 
younger Yon Tromp, it went so much to his heart, that he took 
to his bed, and, in less than three days, was brought to death's 
door, by a violent cholera morbus ! Even in this extremity he 
still displayed the unconquerable spirit of Peter the Headstrong ; 
holding out to the last gasp, with inflexible obstinacy, against a 
whole army of old women who were bent upon driving the enemy 
out of his bowels, in the true Dutch mode of defence, by inun- 

While he thus lay, lingering on the verge of dissolution, news 
was brought him, that the brave de Euyter had made good 
his retreat, with little loss, and meant once more to meet the 
enemy in battle. The closing eye of the old warrior kindled 
with martial fire at the words — he partly raised himself in bed — 
clinched his withered hand, as if he felt within his gripe that 
sword which waved in triumph before the walls of Fort Chris- 
tina, and giving a grim smile of exultation, sank back upon his 
pillow, and expired. 

Thus died Peter Stuyvesant, a valiant soldier — a loyal sub- 
ject — an upright governor, and an honest Dutchman — who want- 
ed only a few empires to desolate, to have been immortalized as 
a hero ! 


His funeral obsequies were celebrated with the utmost gran- 
deur and solemnity. The town was perfectly emptied of its 
inhabitants, who crowded in throngs to pay the last sad honors 
to their good old governor. All his sterling qualities rushed in 
full tide upon their recollection, while the memory of his foibles 
and his faults had expired with him. The ancient burghers 
contended who should have the privilege of bearing the pall ; the 
populace strove who should walk nearest to the bier, and the 
melancholy procession was closed by a number of gray-headed 
negroes, who had wintered and summered in the household of 
their departed master for the greater part of a century. 

With sad and gloomy countenances, the multitude gathered 
round the grave. They dAvelt with mournful hearts on the sturdy 
virtues, the signal services, and the gallant exploits of the brave 
old worthy. They recalled, with secret upbraidings, their own 
factious oppositions to his government ; and many an ancient 
burgher, whose phlegmatic features had never been known to 
relax, nor his eyes to moisten, was now observed to puff a pen- 
sive pipe, and the big drop to steal down his cheek ; while he 
muttered, with affectionate accent, and melancholy shake of the 
head — " "Well, den ! — Hardkoppig Peter ben gone at last !" 

His remains were deposited in the family vault, under a chapel 
which he had piously erected on his estate, and dedicated to St. 
Nicholas — and which stood on the identical spot at present occu- 
pied by St. Mark's church, where his tombstone is still to be seen. 
His estate, or bouwery, as it was called, has ever continued in the 
possession of his descendants, who, by the uniform integrity of 
their conduct, and their strict adherence to the customs and man- 
ners that prevailed in the " good old times" have proved them- 
selves worthy of their illustrious ancestor. Many a time and 


oft has the farm been haunted at night by enterprising money- 
diggers, in quest of pots of gold, said to have been buried by the 
old governor — though I cannot learn that any of them have ever 
been enriched by their researches — and who is there, among my 
native-born fellow-citizens, that does not remember when, in the 
mischievous days of his boyhood, he conceived it a great exploit 
to rob " Stuyvesant's orchard" on a holiday afternoon? 

At this strong-hold of the family may still be seen certain 
memorials of the immortal Peter. His full-length portrait frowns 
in martial terrors from the parlor wall — his cocked hat and sword 
still hang up in the best bedroom — his brimstone-colored breeches 
were for a long while suspended in the hall, until some years 
since they occasioned a dispute between a new-married couple — 
and his silver-mounted wooden leg is still treasured up in the 
store-room, as an invaluable relique. 



Among the numerous events, which are each in their turn the 
most direful and melancholy of all possible occurrences, in your 
interesting and authentic history, there is none that occasions such 
deep and heart-rending grief as the decline and fall of your re- 
nowned and mighty empires. Where is the reader who can con- 
template without emotion the disastrous events by which the 
great dynasties of the world have been extinguished ? While 
wandering, in imagination, among the gigantic ruins of states and 
empires, and marking the tremendous convulsions that wrought 
their overthrow, the bosom of the melancholy inquirer swells 
with sympathy commensurate to the surrounding desolation. 
Kingdoms, principalities, and powers, have each had their rise, 
their progress, and their downfall — each in its turn has swayed a 
potent sceptre — each has returned to its primeval nothingness. 
And thus did it fare with the empire of their High Mightinesses, 
at the Manhattoes, under the peaceful reign of Walter the Doubter 
— the fretful reign of William the Testy, and the chivalric reign 
of Peter the Headstrong. 

Its history is fruitful of instruction, and worthy of being pon- 
dered over attentively, for it is by thus raking among the ashes 


of departed greatness, that the sparks of true knowledge are to 
be found, and the lamp of wisdom illuminated. Let then the 
reign of Walter the Doubter warn against yielding to that sleek, 
contented security, and that overweening fondness for comfort and 
repose, which are produced by a state of prosperity and peace. 
These tend to unnerve a nation ; to destroy its pride of character ; 
to render it patient of insult ; deaf to the calls of honor and of 
justice ; and cause it to cling to peace, like the sluggard to his 
pillow, at the expense of every valuable duty and consideration. 
Such supineness insures the very evil from which it shrinks. 
One right yielded up produces the usurpation of a second ; one 
encroachment passively suffered makes way for another ; and the 
nation which thus, through a doting love of peace, has sacrificed 
honor and interest, will at length have to fight for existence. 

Let the disastrous reign of William the Testy serve as a salu- 
tary warning against that fitful, feverish mode of legislation, 
which acts without system ; depends on shifts and projects, and 
trusts to lucky contingencies. Which hesitates, and wavers, and 
at length decides with the rashness of ignorance and imbecility. 
Which stoops for popularity by courting the prejudices and flat- 
tering the arrogance, rather than commanding the respect of the 
rabble. Which seeks safety in a multitude of counselors, and 
distracts itself by a variety of contradictory schemes and opinions. 
Which mistakes procrastination for wariness — hurry for decision 
— parsimony for economy — bustle for business, and vaporing for 
valor. Which is violent in council — sanguine in expectation, 
precipitate in action, and feeble in execution. Which undertakes 
enterprises without forethought — enters upon them without pre- 
paration — conducts them without energy, and ends them in con- 
fusion and defeat. 


Let the reign of the good Stuyvesant show the effects of vigor 
and decision, even when destitute of cool judgment, and sur- 
rounded by perplexities. Let it show how frankness, probity, 
and high-souled courage will command respect, and secure honor, 
even where success is unattainable. But at the same time, let it 
caution against a too ready reliance on the good faith of others, 
and a too honest confidence in the loving professions of powerful 
neighbors, who are most friendly when they most mean to betray. 
Let it teach a judicious attention to the opinions and wishes of the 
many, who, in times of peril, must be soothed and led, or appre- 
hension will overpower the deference to authority. 

Let the empty wordiness of his factious subjects ; their intem- 
perate harangues ; their violent " resolutions ;" their hectorings 
against an absent enemy, and their pusillanimity on his approach, 
teach us to distrust and despise those clamorous patriots, whose 
courage dwells but in the tongue. Let them serve as a lesson to 
repress that insolence of speech, destitute of real force, which too 
often breaks forth in popular bodies, and bespeaks the vanity 
rather than the spirit of a nation. Let them caution us against 
vaunting too much of our own power and prowess, and reviling a 
noble enemy. True gallantry of soul would always lead us to 
treat a foe with courtesy and proud punctilio ; a contrary conduct 
but takes, from the merit of victory, and renders defeat doubly 

But I cease to dwell on the stores of excellent examples to be 
drawn from the ancient chronicles of the Manhattoes. He who 
reads attentively will discover the threads of gold which run 
throughout the web of history, and are invisible to the dull eye 
of ignorance. But, before I conclude, let me point out a solemn 
warning, furnished in the subtle chain of events by which the cap- 


ture of Fort Casimir has produced the present convulsions of our 

Attend then, gentle reader, to this plain deduction, which, if 
thou art a king, an emperor, or other powerful potentate, I advise 
thee to treasure up in thy heart — though little expectation have I 
that my work will fall into such hands, for well I know the care 
of crafty ministers, to keep all grave and edifying books of the 
kind out of the way of unhappy monarchs — lest peradventure 
they should read them and learn wisdom. 

By the treacherous surprisal of Fort Casimir, then, did the 
crafty Swedes enjoy a transient triumph; but drew upon their 
heads the vengeance of Peter Stuyvesant, who wrested all New- 
Sweden from their hands. By the conquest of New-Sweden, 
Peter Stuyvesant aroused the claims of Lord Baltimore, who 
appealed to the Cabinet of Great Britain ; who subdued the whole 
province of New-Netherlands. By this great achievement the 
whole extent of North America, from Nova Scotia to the Flori- 
das, was rendered one entire dependency upon the British crown.— 
But mark the consequence : the hitherto scattered colonies being 
thus consolidated, and having no rival colonies to check or keep 
them in awe, waxed great and powerful, and finally becoming too 
strong for the mother country, were enabled to shake off its bonds, 
and by a glorious revolution became an independent empire. 
But the chain of effects stopped not here ; the successful revolu- 
tion in America produced the sanguinary revolution in France ; 
which produced the puissant Bonaparte; who produced the 
French despotism ; which has thrown the whole world in confu- 
sion ! — Thus have these great powers been successively punished 
for their ill-starred conquests — and thus, as I asserted, have all the 
present convulsions, revolutions, and' disasters that overwhelm 


mankind, originated in the capture of the little Fort Casimir, as 
recorded in this eventful history. 

And now, worthy reader, ere I take a sad farewell — which, 
alas ! must be for ever — willingly would I part in cordial fellow- 
ship, and bespeak thy kind-hearted remembrance. That I have 
not written a better history of the days of the patriarchs is not 
my fault — had any other person written one as good, I should not 
have attempted it at all. That many will hereafter spring up and 
surpass me in excellence, I have very little doubt, and still less 
care ; well knowing that, when the great Christovallo Colon (who 
is vulgarly called Columbus) had once stood his egg upon its end, 
every one at table could stand his up a thousand times more dex- 
trously. — Should any reader find matter of offence in this history, 
I should heartily grieve, though I would on no account question 
his penetration by telling him he was mistaken — his good nature 
by telling him he was captious — or his pure conscience by telling 
him he was startled at a shadow. — Surely when so ingenious in 
Imding offence where none was intended, it were a thousand pities 
he should not be suffered to enjoy the benefit of his discovery. 

I have too high an opinion of the understanding of my fellow- 
citizens, to think of yielding them instruction, and I covet too 
much their good will, to forfeit it by giving them good advice. 
I am none of those cynics who despise the world, because it des- 
spises them — on the contrary, though but low in its regard, I look 
up to it with the most perfect good nature, and my only sorrow is, 
that it does not prove itself more worthy of the unbounded love 
I bear it. 

If, however, in this my historic production — the scanty fruit 
of a long and laborious life — I have failed to gratify the dainty 
palate of the age, I can only lament my misfortune — for it is too 



late in the season for me even to hope to repair it. Already has 
withering age showered his sterile snows upon my brow ; in a 
little while, and this genial warmth which still lingers around my 
heart, and throbs — worthy reader — throbs kindly towards thyself, 
will be chilled for ever. Haply this frail compound of dust, 
which while alive may have given birth to naught but unprofita- 
ble weeds, may form a humble sod of the valley, whence may 
spring many a sweet wild flower, to adorn my beloved island of 
Manna-hata ! 


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